SYCAMORE – DeKalb County expects more than 40 solar energy projects will make their way through the county’s special-use permit process ahead of the Illinois project lottery early next year.
The update comes after public hearings for 13 2-megawatt community solar energy projects within the county were held in the past month, including nine held Nov. 8 and three Thursday. The site locations for the proposed projects include Sandwich, Shabbona, Sycamore, DeKalb and Kingston.
DeKalb County Board Chairman Mark Pietrowski Jr. said it’s unclear how the state’s solar energy program, which was created by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration, will be affected with Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker taking office after winning the Nov. 6 election. He said it will remain something that the County Board will monitor.
“There are still a lot of unknowns right now,” Pietrowski said.
Derek Hiland, community development director for DeKalb County, said after a Nov. 14 DeKalb County Executive Committee meeting that he originally thought the county would get about 35 proposals with about 20 percent, or six projects, making it all the way through the Illinois state lottery process. That’s after the county’s solar energy ordinance went into effect April 1.
Hiland had said he still expects about six projects to make the final cut at the state level, but there currently are almost 40 projects at different stages of approval in the county, and he foresees that number surpassing 40 by the beginning of 2019.
Hiland did not immediately return requests for comment.
Illinois currently has 98 megawatts of installed solar projects, but is forecast to add 1,856 megawatts worth of generating capacity in the next five years, according to a Nov. 6 statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association.
Pietrowski said he has been told that DeKalb County is one of the counties with the most solar project proposals so far. He said the community solar farms, which would power 300 to 400 houses a project, will be beneficial for the county and will give people the option of a clean, renewable energy source.
“I do think it’s clear to me that the agricultural community in DeKalb County is very interested in solar technology,” Pietrowksi said.