Solar projects good for county

Solar projects good for county

Champaign County has the opportunity to become a home to multiple solar farms in the next few years, but only if the county writes a fair and reasonable zoning ordinance.

The current zoning rule under consideration may wipe out solar development before it ever starts.

The Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act and the Illinois Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requires 25 percent of energy generated to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.

More than $200 million per year will be invested in renewable energy projects and 3,000 MW of solar will be developed in Illinois. Solar energy will be generated on rooftops, by small- to medium-sized community solar projects and in some large-scale solar farms.

These projects are appropriate for Champaign County, yet the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals is on track to kill community solar and large-scale projects with overreaching set-back rules that even greatly exceed the narrow, but legal, residential setbacks from strip mining operations in some states.

With overburdensome and nonsensical requirements, Champaign County residents and businesses will miss out on the benefits of solar. Investments in solar will bring jobs to the county, open up access to clean energy to low-income families in our community, provide opportunities for residents and businesses to purchase solar energy shares, generate local tax revenues and capture state and federal incentives that would otherwise go elsewhere.