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Dixon City Council backs off solar farm objection

September 5, 2018

DIXON – The City Council decided not to object to a proposed solar farm on the edge of city limits Monday, with the majority saying the landowner wouldn’t need to annex.

Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy is looking to develop a 2-megawatt and 1-megawatt solar farm on two sections of farmland owned by Marvin Gerdes at 1675 Pump Factory Road, which would take up about 21 acres of the 45-acre property.

Last month, the council was considering making an objection to the project – the fate of which will ultimately be decided by the county – because the development is next to the city boundaries and wouldn’t go through city regulation channels.

The council decided not to vote on a formal objection and instead made a 3-2 consensus to leave it be. Mayor Li Arellano Jr. and Councilman Kevin Marx were against the project because of the annexation concern.

“A project on city boundaries builds a firewall,” Arellano said.

The project is contingent on being picked in a competitive solar farm lottery across the state, and the county would need to grant a special use permit for the solar farm.

Kerri Neary, vice president of execution at Summit Ridge, said chances of the project being chosen are slime – ComEd has about 200 megawatts set aside for solar, and proposed projects make up around 1,500 megawatts.

They would be willing to follow city rules and regulations, but it would be asking too much for Gerdes to permanently annex into the city, she said.

Councilman Mike Venier said a solar farm would benefit the property, and there’s no need for the owner to annex.

“It would be an upgrade to what the property would ever become,” he said.

The solar farm, which could generate power to around 500 homes, will go to the Lee County Zoning Board at 7 p.m. Thursday for a recommendation, which will go to the County Board for a vote on Sept. 18.

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