The Cass County Board approved its 6th permit for a solar farm in the county within the past two years.
This final project is for a community solar garden in the Beardstown area that is the fifth project overseen by U.S. Solar Corporation, who has administrated 4 projects in Beardstown and one in the Virginia area.
Cass County Board President Michael Barnett says that the projects are all going to significantly help the county’s taxpayers along with the environment: “The first project was our largest. It encompasses about 3,600 acres in South Beardstown Drainage District, and then, five of the smaller farms are from 5-15 megawatts have been spread out throughout the county, predominantly in the Beardstown area, but there is one here in Virginia. Again, I think it will help the taxpayers dramatically. The largest one, when it comes online, I think the first year’s estimated tax revenue is $960,000. That will go a long way to help the Beardstown School District and of course, all of the other taxing bodies. I think it’s very positive.”
Ryan Magnoni, project developer at U.S. Solar Corporation says that the projects by his company have been built with the idea that all the power that is generated stays local: “They are called community solar projects with the idea that all of the power that is generated is local power. It’s not something that connects to transmission lines that can send the electricity out of county, out of state possibly. It is just connected to your standard pole lines along the street or road and goes back to the local substations. At that point then, a local residence, a business, a school, a government office has the ability to actually subscribe to a portion of the electrical usage that is created from the solar garden.”
Mangoni says that the community solar gardens are built in accordance with the parameters of the Illinois Shines and the Adjustable Block Program through the State of Illinois. Magnoni said during the Cass County Board meeting Monday night that the Cass County projects are being submitted for the first round of the program due by November 1st. Approved projects receive payments in exchange for 15 years of Renewable Energy Credits. Mangoni says that the initial term with landowners to site the project is 20 years. He says based on the 20 megawatts that the projects are producing, the local area will see significant tax revenue over that 20-year term: “At a minimum, you are looking at about $600,000-$800,000 of tax money per year. The average comes out to about to $6,000-$8,000 per megawatt that we pay in real estate taxes, and then, that’s divided up between the levies of the local taxing districts.”
Magnoni told the Cass County Board that if the project gets approved for the Illinois Shines program, construction would begin next Fall at the earliest on all five of the proposed projects.