Boone County Board discusses the idea of solar farms

BOONE COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) -- Creating a solar farm where crops normally grow. Some Boone County neighbors are on board and others, not so much.

Men with Cypress Creek Renewables gave a presentation Wednesday night to share basic information about solar development to equip the committee and community with more knowledge, to determine what they want to see as far as regulations for solar development in the county.

These men say they've been working to draft an ordinance to try to build two solar farms in the county, one along Reeds Crossing Road between Genoa and Spring Center Roads, and the other off of Illinois 173, east of Capron. The company has been sending letters to Illinois farmers throughout the region asking for $1,000 an acre for 20 years if they permit to their company. Some local farmers are concerned about losing farm land and agricultural jobs, but the company says this additional tax revenue could help the county and city services.

"The main concern is losing productive farm land. The site that they are looking at is prime agriculture land, we can't reproduce that. The plant comes in, it subsides in for any reason at all, who's going to decommission it? Who's going to take it apart?” says Capron farmer, Julie Newhouse.

"We've actually already held a few community meetings to solicit opinions, questions and concerns from neighboring property owners because everybody's so new to solar in the state, understandably because there's quite frankly just not much solar development, but we did it in an open process so they know that we're not trying to just stick shovels in the dirt as quickly as we can," says Cypress Creek Renewables Senior Developer, Scott Novack.

Wednesday was the beginning stages of talking about solar development in the county. The next step will be to determine what projects the county wants to move forward with. Newhouse believes we already have an excess of electricity in Illinois and don't need more.

Cypress is trying to build at least three solar farms in the region by 20-19. Newhouse says she hopes the county board will take their time with this decision.