June 20, 2024

Lee County finalizes new wind, solar ordinances

Moratorium on renewable energy projects ends

Wind farm in southeastern Lee County north and east of Compton, Illinois.

DIXON, Ill. — The Lee County Board recently completed an overhaul of its wind and solar ordinances and the moratorium on projects has ended.

A year ago, the board approved a six-month hiatus on solar and wind projects to do a deeper dive into the regulations for those developments after several massive energy developments came before the county.

The board also created the renewable energy ad hoc committee to review the ordinances and make changes, and the moratorium was extended with 90-day extensions in May and August to finalize the regulations.

The moratorium, which didn’t apply to small community solar projects less than five megawatts, ended Nov. 30. The board approved the wind and solar ordinances the previous week.

Board Chairman Bob Olson commended the group and committee chairman Chris Norberg on their hard work and time put into the effort.

Some of the changes came about to address concerns from neighbors during hearings for utility-grade solar projects, including setbacks and visual buffers.

Before the original moratorium, the County Board approved four large solar developments, the most recent of which was in December 2021 with the 3,838-acre South Dixon Solar project just south of the industrial park by Duke Energy.

In November 2020, the board approved a special-use permit for Steward Creek Solar LLC, of Virginia-based Hexagon Energy, to build a 600-megawatt solar farm across 5,000 acres in Alto and Willow Creek townships near Steward and Lee, bordering Ogle and DeKalb counties, as well as Interstate 39 and Highway 30.

The board approved a 1,300-acre solar farm in September 2020 by Eldena Solar LLC, developed by Minnesota-based Geronimo Energy LLC, allowing for a 175-megawatt solar farm in South Dixon and Nachusa townships, near the corner of Eldena and Nachusa roads.

In May 2019, Geronimo also was granted a special-use permit under Junction Solar LLC to build a 100-megawatt solar farm across 760 acres near Steward between Herman and Reynolds roads in Alto and Reynolds townships.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.