Jim Meadows | Will Radio, Illinois Public Media
At nearly 1200 acres and with a generating capacity of 150 megawatts, the solar farm would be the largest in the state, even bigger than a 99 megawatt project planned for Perry County in southern Illinois.
Some county board members were doubtful about taking so much farmland out of commission, and voiced fears of environmental hazards from the solar panels when the time came to dispose of them.
Republican Aaron Esry, who chairs the county board’s Environment and Land Use Committee, said such concerns were overblown. And he said the property owners who would be leasing their land for the project, had the right to do so.
“I go back to individual property rights,” said Esry. “And I don’t believe that this is ultimately hurting the ground. I don’t believe it is ultimately hurting the neighbors or the greater community.”
State officials say the program, part of the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act, is aimed at increasing the state’s solar power generating capacity by thirty-fold, to 3,000 megawatts by 2030.