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Marengo City Council approves solar farm proposal

The Atlanta-based developer of a 15.5-acre ground-mounted solar energy project in Marengo soon will apply to participate in a program to secure renewable energy credits.

A zoning text amendment from SolAmerica Energy LLC to allow the installation of the system on a 95-acre parcel of land southeast of Greenlee Street, a special use request for the project and a development agreement all were approved without opposition during Monday’s City Council meeting.

The petitioner said the approval of the project was necessary to enter a 2019 lottery for community solar projects to participate in the Illinois Power Agency’s Adjustable Block Program, which offers a set price for the purchase of renewable energy credits by way of 15-year contracts for qualifying projects.

Prices will be adjusted for subsequent blocks based on market response to ensure the maximum amount of project deployment at the least possible cost.

Applications for the program initially were supposed to open Tuesday, but the deadline was postponed to allow time to refine renewable energy contracts between approved solar vendors and utility companies.

As part of the development agreement, SolAmerica would make a $200,000 contribution to the city.

City Administrator Joshua Blakemore said staff will have discussions about what to do with the money, but he anticipates it will go toward some type of infrastructure improvements, such as road, water or sewer work.

Because of the site’s close proximity to Marengo High School, the petitioner has had preliminary conversations about working the solar project into the school’s curriculum.

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