Boone County Board approves third solar farm, they say 10 more in the works

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As concerns over global climate change and limited resources rise, the race to provide renewable energy has come to Illinois. In the Stateline, companies pitch their plans to make local fields the source of that energy.
    
The Boone County Board is among many other local counties to be inundated with solar farm applications. County leaders tell us if green energy comes to the Stateline — it could mean more money for local governments.

Wednesday, a third solar farm was approved by the Boone County Board. The project is one of thirteen applications. Some board members say it’s been surprising to see the amount of interest they’re receiving.

“However they have to come get approval here [first],” said Boone County Board Denny Ellingson. “[That’s] before they can get on the state list to even be in the lottery drawing to determine who will put up solar farms next summer.”

Ellingson says the applications are in land all over Boone County.

“One in the northern end of the county,” said Ellingson. “The one that got approved a month ago is out near the fairgrounds.”

County Board Member Marshall Newhouse says with every vote, they learn something about the relatively unknown energy concept. Because of the uncertainty, he says the board is being very careful as they review each proposal.

“Since as of today, we do not have specific code regulating these projects,” said Newhouse. “We are definitely taking them case by case.”

Newhouse says according to the developers, solar farms could mean a huge jump in property tax revenue.

“The taxes could be anywhere in the area of 7-10 times per acre what the county and the taxing bodies have been used to getting.”

Newhouse says the county wouldn’t be the only one’s reaping economic benefit from solar farms.

“To the farmer, it is a different and additional source of income,” said Newhouse. “For those acres, that are going to be devoted to the project, it’s probably going to be quite lucrative for them.”

County board members say they’re listening to any resident concerns through the process as well. One controversial 200-acre proposal is up for a full county board vote on October 3rd.

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