A solar power developer has filed applications for what would be the first three solar farms in McLean County.
There are three parcels of land involved near Arrowsmith and Downs totaling 80 acres.
County Building and Zoning Director Phil Dick said solar farms typically have smaller acreages involved and less impact than wind farms. Dick said there is already one solar farm in Champaign County and another near LaSalle-Peru.
"In the state of Illinois I understand many of them (are) coming up. I think it has to do with new laws regarding financial incentives," said Dick.
The project costs total $11.7 million. The solar panels would generate enough electricity to power 900 to 1,200 homes.
The company, Cypress Creek Renewables, indicates in its filing that the three projects on land owned by David Sandage and Mary Trent would total six megawatts of power generation, or two megawatts per project.
Dick said a fourth solar farm proposal for rural Bloomington will likely be withdrawn because it is on land already zoned residential.
Dick said fields of solar panels tend to have less impact on neighbors than the sometimes controversial wind farms.
"They don't have much negative impact. They don't impact properties nearby. There's a hum of a transformer that if put toward the center of the facility, I don't even believe you can hear it at the property line," said Dick.
According to the filing, Cypress Creek Renewables is the third largest solar developer in the nation. It operates facilities in seven states and is developing in more than a dozen states. As of last September, Cypress Creek had 972 megawatts in operation and another 14,089 megawatts in development. The company has put $1.5 billion into solar production in the last four years. Cypress claimed to have more than five gigawatts of power generation in operation or development, enough to power nearly one million homes.
The McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals would begin hearings on the proposals Feb. 6.
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