DeKalb County solar gardens get green light

April 13, 2019

Seven solar projects around DeKalb County have been awarded renewable energy credits by the Illinois Power Agency, according to a news release from the organization Thursday.

Out of 50 solar projects that the DeKalb County Board has granted special permits to thus far, seven were awarded energy credits, meaning project developers can continue on to the next phase of the process, and 43 were wait-listed for future credits, the list shows. Projects in DeKalb, Cortland, Kirkland, Lee, Sandwich, Somonauk and Sycamore received credits, which will support the construction of the new solar facilities.

“The state has allocated a certain amount of credit that equates for a certain amount of energy being produced,” said Derek Hiland, DeKalb County community development director. “So developers move forward however they want. Credits are a known quantity, and they’re getting rebated on the energy reproduced.”

Illinois has been part of a solar boom, which added more than 1,300 solar jobs in 2018, according to the release. However, state support for projects will be cut short in 2020 from lack of funding.

The seven projects that were given credits are Long John Solar LLC at 4404 Somonauk Road, Sandwich; Wolfcastle Solar LLC at 5700 Twombly Road, DeKalb; Sycamore No. 1 at Route 64 and Sycamore; Somonauk Road Solar 1 at 1171 Somonauk Road, Somonauk; USS Sycamore Solar LLC at 14950 Bethany Road, Sycamore (which Hiland said is not the actually address for the project, but did not know why it was listed as such); IL-18-0014-IL FEJA-Hasselmann-Kirkland at Wolf Road 60, Kirkland; Cortland 2 at East North Avenue, Cortland; Bolgenzahn at10480 Tower Road, Lee.

“In talking with one of the project developers, they can now move on to the next step, and two things need to happen,” Hiland said. “What I heard was [developers] need to go to Illinois Commerce Commission which has to approve those lotteries, and then they have to return to ComEd to look at the projects specifically and tell what the interconnection agreement has to be.”

Hiland said in many cases, the developer is responsible for fronting the cost of getting a solar project on the grid. He said the state of Illinois operates through two territories, one through ComEd and one through Ameren CIPS. According to an Illinois Power Agency news release, going solar helps consumers lower their electric bills, and community solar projects generate $140,000 a megawatt on average in local property taxes over an average project’s 20-year lifespan.