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Lake in the Hills solar farm will need big approvals from FAA, IDOT, but could bring village $20,000 yearly

LITH could $20K annually for next 21 years

LAKE IN THE HILLS – The village could get $20,000 annually for the next 21 years through a proposal to create a solar farm at the Lake in the Hills Airport.

Village officials approved California-based energy company Cenergy Power’s proposal to lease about 10 acres along the southern portion of the airport.

Cenergy is in talks with five other municipalities, including three airports, in Illinois to build solar farms, according to village documents.

With a nod of approval from trustees, it does not guarantee the project’s approval because there are several regulatory hurdles to clear before the solar farm could become a reality. Cenergy has a year to perform site engineering studies at its own expense.

Cenergy has developed more than 300 solar projects in nine states over the past 10 years, according to village documents. The clean energy company provides renewable solar power for commercial, agricultural and utility scale businesses.

Solar panels would be installed to generate 2.5 megawatts of electricity to provide local energy through ComEd’s grid. The energy would be sold to ComEd at a lower cost than typically produced power, according to village documents.

Lake in the Hills economic development coordinator George Hahne said discussions with the company began in September.

Cenergy will pay for design, construction and maintenance costs for the project and pay $2,000 an acre a year for 21 years. The village would get $20,000 yearly to offset airport operational costs and future project expenditures.

The village also could get cheaper electrical power costs if it enters into a power purchase agreement with Cenergy.

Cenergy must apply for approval of the project through the Illinois Power Agency Procurement Program, an incentive program that has a cap on the number of megawatts that can be produced under the incentive.

Then, Cenergy will have to apply for electric interconnection permission with ComEd to its existing electric grid. Other permissions are needed from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics.

A glare study to ensure the panels do not interfere with the pilots’ safety, an environmental impact study and a concurrent land use approval from the FAA must be completed.

The FAA could require the village to update its Airport Layout Plan, originally made in 2003. It would cost the village about $200,000 to create a new layout plan, village documents say.

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