KANE — Two west-central Illinois counties plan to buy their first solar panel farms within the next year.
Hickory Solar Park is planned to be built on land in Greene and Jersey counties. The farm will be located near the village of Kane in Greene County. Jersey County Board Chairman Gary Kruger said the farm will be more than 800 acres, most of which will be in Jersey County.
The farm is being developed by EDP Renewables North America, a Texas-based subsidiary of Spanish energy company EDP Renováveis. EDP is also working on the Wolf Run Solar Park in Morgan County. Hickory Solar Park has been in the works for at least three years, Kruger said.
The company said the Hickory Solar Park will generate 110 megawatts of energy once operational, enough to power an average of 27,800 Illinois homes and save 139 million gallons of water annually. It also said it would require more than $130 million in capital investment, but would pay more than $37 million to landowners and $15 million to local governments.
Kruger said the solar farm would bring in additional property tax revenue and more jobs to support it. He noted that some landowners in the county are concerned about it taking up land that could be used for farming. The solar farm was built mostly on flat ground, which they argued would be better for growing crops if the panels could be mounted on rolling ground.
“The walkway would be better used (for) solar panels and the flat ground for rural crops,” Kruger said. “But I can’t fault any of the landowners for the financial deal they made.”
The Hickory Solar Park is expected to begin generating electricity in 2024, EDP said. Kruger said the project is still in the planning stages, but construction could begin later in the year.