Herald-Whig

Proposed Adams County solar farm clears first local review

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 24, 2019 7:00 am Updated: May. 24, 2019 8:13 am

QUINCY -- The Adams County Board will consider at its June 11 meeting whether to approve the plans of an Atlanta-based firm to build a 1.5-megawatt solar farm south of Quincy.

The board's Transportation, Building and Technology Committee recommended Thursday that the County Board approve the plan of SolAmerica Energy LLC to build the 9.3-acre facility on 36.5 acres owned by the J.M. Huber Corp. near 1700 Turtle Lake Road.

This came after a public hearing on the net metering project, which would provide power to J.M. Huber and any excess to the power grid.

Mike Butler, a civil and environmental engineer representing SolAmerica, said tracker solar panels would be used in the project, which sit at a height between 6 and 12 feet during operation.

"They sit in a row, north to south, and in the morning, they'll face towards the east, and as the sun moves they follow it," Butler said as he reviewed the project during the hearing.

The solar farm would be monitored remotely, and there would be no on-site personnel for normal operations. Maintenance of the solar farm requiring personnel would be completed over seven to 10 days each year.

No security lighting will be included around the facility, but an 8-foot chain-link fence would be installed per the county's solar ordinance.

Concerning glare from the solar panels, Butler said the panels for the project can shimmer but compared it to the shimmer off freshly laid asphalt.

"They're all treated with an anti-glare coating," he said. "The point is to absorb sunlight and not reflect. Anything that is getting reflected off is lost energy."

He said the project should not be visible off Ill. 57 nearby.

As part of vegetative maintenance on the site, plans call for native, low-growth plants species that support local wildlife and pollinating insects.

"They're selecting species that are at a height that grows below the panels," Butler said.

Butler said the firm is going through regulatory procedures with the Illinois Power Agency.

The goal is to start construction this fall pending. Construction is slated to take less than 20 weeks.

During construction, there will be 10 to 20 people on scene and there might be a slight increase traffic with deliveries.

The committee's recommendation is contingent on SolAmerica providing some additional documentation on some items, including a signed interconnection agreement with Ameren, a legal survey of the property and proof of insurance.