Proposed solar farm near Homer heads to final Champaign County Board vote

Proposed solar farm near Homer heads to final Champaign County Board vote

URBANA — Another solar farm proposal took a step forward Thursday night.

The Champaign County Board's Environment and Land Use Committee voted 5-0 to recommend granting a special-use permit to Atlanta-based SolAmerica Energy LLC for a 2-megawatt solar farm on 14.6 acres east of Homer, west of the Vermilion County line and north of the sewage treatment plant.

"I believe we have a fairly ideal site for solar here," said Michael Butler of SolAmerica.

If built, the Homer solar farm would provide enough energy for between 200 and 300 homes.

If the special-use permit wins final approval from the full county board at a special meeting Tuesday night, SolAmerica's Champaign Sinclair Farm would take part in a contract lottery alongside a proposed Ludlow project, two St. Joseph projects and a Sidney project.

On Feb. 13, the Illinois Power Agency will hold a lottery awarding contracts for renewable energy credits to solar farms. The credits are generally considered necessary for the farms to be economically viable.

The projects that win the lottery will be able to proceed. The ones that don't will be able to try again in later lotteries.

Special-use permits in Champaign County are only good for 10 years, so projects that don't secure renewable energy credits within that time frame will likely have to start the process from scratch.