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McLean County to consider solar farm southwest of Bloomington

Cypress Creek Renewables solar farm in Will County
A three-megawatt solar farm developed by Cypress Creek Renewables in Will County, Ill.

A California company wants to build what would be McLean County's largest solar farm.

Cypress Creek Renewables has applied to build Towanda Solar, a 5-megawatt solar facility southwest of Bloomington in Dale Township. The county’s only existing solar farm, Moraine Solar east of Downs, is a 2-megawatt facility.

The county's Zoning Board of Appeals will consider a special use permit for the project Tuesday night. If approved, the McLean County Board will vote on the proposal at its May 12 meeting.

The county granted permits to Cypress Creek twice before to build a 2-megawatt solar facility, but the company never proceeded with those plans. The project developer said Cypress Creek decided to move on the current project after the Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act was approved.

Signed last year, the legislation offers incentives for 5-megawatt projects. “Since then, we have been actively developing the project in anticipation of a revamped solar program in Illinois,” Kiera Gavin, Cypress Creek Renewables associate developer, said in the company's application to the county.

Energy produced by the solar farm would supply local homes and businesses in Ameren’s territory, according to Gavin, adding Towanda Solar plans to invest $7 million into the project, including $4 million into the local economy, if the county approves the plan.

McLean County Building and Zoning Director Phil Dick said the project meets all county guidelines and it would generate construction jobs and property tax revenue.

“I think the main thing we are concerned about is that if and when they are done using the property for a solar facility, the land be as good if not better than it was when it started, so it doesn’t deteriorate the good farm ground,” Dick said.

Gavin said Cypress Creek Renewables plans to retire the solar farm in 40 years.

Gavin added if the county approves the special use permit, the company plans to apply for a building permit in late 2023 with construction taking 12 to 16 months.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.