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State funding approved for 6 McHenry County solar projects; dozens more wait-listed

6 McHenry County projects get green light, dozens more wait-listed

Windfree Solar founder Doug Snower gives a tour of McHenry County College's solar installation during the Illinois Energy Association's annual Solar Tour on Oct. 1, 2016, at the Shah Center in McHenry.
Windfree Solar founder Doug Snower gives a tour of McHenry County College's solar installation during the Illinois Energy Association's annual Solar Tour on Oct. 1, 2016, at the Shah Center in McHenry.

Six McHenry County community solar projects have been awarded renewable energy credits, which developers can use to support the construction of solar arrays statewide.

ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd said 438 community solar projects representing
864 megawatts of power signed agreements with ComEd and applied to participate in the Adjustable Block Program, which allows solar projects to buy renewable energy credits.

Because more solar developers than expected applied for the incentives, the Illinois Power Agency held a lottery April 10 to determine which of the hundreds of projects would be able to buy credits first.

Of the 78 projects that were accepted in the first round of the lottery, six were from McHenry County: three in Marengo, one in Harvard, one in Huntley and one in Woodstock.

The remainder of the projects were put on a waitlist, but with funding for future solar and wind energy developments estimated to dry up in the next two years, an expansion of the state’s renewable energy program may be necessary for these unpicked projects to advance.

Accepted projects

Borrego Solar Systems was ready to move forward on six projects in McHenry County, but after the lottery, only one of its projects – in the northwest quadrant of Alden and McGuire roads in Harvard – was awarded renewable energy credits.

Alex Farkes, director of development for Borrego Solar Systems, said the company hopes work will start by the end of the year on the 2-megawatt project, which will be capable of powering 150 to 200 households.

“We really like McHenry County a lot, but, unfortunately, we had six projects [in the county], and one got selected,” Farkes said. “Hopefully, the other five can find a home in the ground and produce power.”

NextEra Energy Resources, under the LLC DG Illinois Solar, had planned for a 4-megawatt solar project composed of two co-located arrays at the southeast corner of West Rail Road Street and Ritz Road outside Marengo.

However, because only one of the projects was picked in the lottery, the project will have a capacity of 2 megawatts, which still is enough energy to meet energy demands for about 500 homes, said Bryan Garner, director of communications for NextEra Energy Resources.

Garner said groundbreaking will depend on the process of establishing interconnection to ComEd’s power grid, but the project likely will be completed in 2020.

When completed, Garner said, the project will bring a number of benefits to the region, including generating up to $480,000 in additional tax dollars for the county and township over its first 30 years in operation and creating local job opportunities during construction.

“The project represents high-value, low-impact development that generates clean, renewable energy with no emissions, no water use and no additional need for municipal services,” Garner said. “We look forward to working with McHenry County to build a good project the community can be proud of.”

OneEnergy Development was planning two co-located projects in McHenry County, but only one farm for each project was accepted in the lottery.

The first project, dubbed Armstrong 2, will be at 11846 Charles Road in Woodstock.

The second project, dubbed Blazingstar 2, will be at 22807 Pleasant Grove Road in Marengo.

OneEnergy Development could not be reached for comment.

SolAmerica was awarded renewable energy credits for two McHenry County projects: one at 7814 Seeman Road in Huntley and the other on Greenlee Street in Marengo.

Waitlist status

Mores than 350 community solar projects across the state were not awarded renewable energy credits in the first round of the lottery. In McHenry County alone, 32 community solar projects were wait-listed.

“We appreciate the Illinois Power Agency’s tireless work in executing Illinois’ first adjustable block program,” Lesley McCain, executive director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association, said in a news release. “Now that millions have been invested in project development and consumers and counties across the state are waiting to benefit from solar power, we need the General Assembly to act and expand this successful program.”

State Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said there are concerns in Springfield that funding for these and other renewable energy projects may run out within a couple of years.

In February, Cunningham introduced a bill – which was introduced by state Rep. Will Davis, D-Hazel Crest, in the House – that would modify the Adjustable Block Program and ensure the procurement of new renewable energy credits in the long term.

With these changes, Farkes expected that wait-listed projects could start to get awarded in the first half of next year. However, neither Cunningham’s or Davis’ bill was voted out of their respective legislative chambers by the necessary deadlines.

Cunningham said there still is some time to work out an expansion bill, which has to be addressed, or the state will not reach certain statutory goals for renewable energy.

Under the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act – which was adopted in 2017 to spur renewable energy development – the state must be operating at 16% renewable energy by 2020 and 25% by 2025. Some renewable energy advocates have said the state currently is operating at less than 10% renewable energy.

Accepted

• Borrego Solar Systems, Alden Road, Harvard

• DG Illinois Solar, corner of Ritz Road and West Railroad Street, Marengo

• OneEnergy Development, 11846 Charles Road, Woodstock

• OneEnergy Development, 22807 Pleasant Grove Road, Marengo

• SolAmerica, Greenlee Street, Marengo

• SolAmerica, 7814 Seeman Road, Huntley

Waitlisted

• Borrego Solar Systems, 24704 W. Grant Highway, Marengo

• Borrego Solar Systems, 9403 N. Solon Road, Richmond

• Borrego Solar Systems, 9521 Route 14, Harvard

• OneEnergy Development, 11846 Charles Road, Woodstock

• OneEnergy Development, 22807 Pleasant Grove Road, Marengo

• DG Illinois Solar, corner of Ritz Road and West Railroad Street, Marengo

• OneEnergy Development, 21789 River Road, Marengo

• St. Clair Solar, west of Ritz Road, Marengo

• Central Road Energy, 6903 S. Grant Highway, Marengo

• SolarStone Illinois, Greenwood Road, Woodstock

• Nexamp Solar, 19033 Route 173, Harvard

• Forefront Power, Route 173 60, Hebron

• SolAmerica, 3308-3718 Murray Road, Woodstock

• SolAmerica, Route 47 and Ward Road, Woodstock

• BAP Power Corp., 8407 Pyott Road, Lake in the Hills

• BAP Power Corp., 18811 Beck Road, Marengo

• Geronimo Energy, 9595 Route 14, Harvard

• Borrego Solar Systems, Lily Pond Road, Woodstock

• OneEnergy Development, 21804 Oak Grove Road, Harvard

• DG Illinois Solar, corner of North Richmond and West Solon roads, Richmond

• Syncarpha Solar, 8909 Harmony Hill Road, Marengo

• SolarStone Illinois, East Coral Road, Union

• Geronimo Energy, 12300 County Highway 27, Hebron

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