Yorkville is working on approval of a special-use permit from GRNE #Solar, a company from Lincoln, NE. With the presentation of the approval for a solar field to be built just to the west of the Kendall County Courthouse, including about 6,400 modules intended to power both the courthouse and eventually the community.
After an October 2nd review by the Yorkville City Council Economic Development Committee, another public hearing will be held on the 10th by the Yorkville Planning and Zoning Commission. Considering this purchase agreement approved back in March, the Aurora company Progressive #Energy is working toward energy cost reduction for the county.
Location of The Kendall County Solar Farm
This 7.4-acre vacant lot, determined for the construction of the solar farm, is actually quite near some local residential neighborhoods in the Yorkville area. With eight of those including single-family homes along with two vacant lots that may be used for future construction there were concerns regarding reflection or other trouble from the solar panels.
With the solar farm ranging anywhere from 60 to 95 feet from the residential backyards, about 85 feet from the closest existing homes, averaging about 160 feet in the homes that were studied for the needs of the solar panels to be built. Some recommendations for construction of the solar farm include a solid fence surrounding the property in order to more completely protect the subdivisions. Additionally, the solar panels will be made of dark materials and covered with an anti-reflective coating for more light absorption rather than reflection. With sunlight collection there is greater likelihood for concentrated solar power with more energy and long-term use.
Use and Goals of the Solar Farm
Recent approval for a 7.4-acre solar energy field near the courthouse has been presented as the next power supply for the Kendall County Courthouse, Public Safety Center and the Health and Human Services Building. Board approval was for a 25-year power purchase agreement from GRNE Solar company, including no cost whatsoever to the courthouse itself. Considering this farm built on a vacant lot just west of the courthouse, the actual business of the company will be the generation of power to be sold to the community while the nearby public buildings will automatically be powered from it.
With the key goal of this initial 25-year contract as the reduction of energy costs in the community, presumed sale of power will be at 2.85 cents per kilowatt hour during the first year alone. As GRNE continues along this contact, however, sales cost will increase at an annual rate of potentially nine percent.
Long-term cost reduction is estimated to be over 34% across Kendall County, between roughly $313,000 and $475,000 annually. County leaders have estimated initial potential for the savings as high as $200,000 even in the first year. Total savings predictions for the entire period of the contract are at about $4 million dollars so far. Considering the fact that solar energy has been unaffordable across most of the state up to this point, those numbers speak incredible for Illinois as a whole.
Determination of GRNE for the Solar Farm
Assigned to develop the project for solar energy construction, Progressive Energy initially invited several solar companies to submit their bids. After nine companies proposed, Progressive Energy’s managing partner, Chris Childress, announced that GRNE Solar had won the right to proceed.
Even after years of expensive solar and sustainable energy, Childress predicts that this project will likely motivate further progress of solar power in the area and potentially across the state, including other programs by the Illinois Power Authority. While the county would not pay for the initial construction, revenue from the program would come from consumer utility bills that are supplied from the solar power generated on the farm.
Contract between Kendall County and GRNE
After the initial 25 years of the contract with GRNE, Kendall county will have the options of extending the contract, purchasing the solar farm or having it removed. Additionally, there will be an option for the county to get out of the contract after 10 years.
GRNE is also required to apply for funding grants for construction. With all of this in place, and approval in the meetings by mid-October, the farm is expected to be complete by the end of the year or early 2019 upon all approvals and funding.
The proposal from GRNE is the second received in Yorkville this year. Previously received was by Cenergy Power, having requested permission to install and operate about 7,000 solar modules on a 10-acre plot of farmland. This application was withdrawn upon word of the objection of eight City Council members. There was a great deal of concern about the impact these modules would have on another local subdivision, simply by being too close to these many homes.
While there are also concerns about the GRNE farm and its position relatively near some subdivisions, there have been enough presentations from the solar company about what they will do to prevent a negative impact on nearby families.