Committee sends solar farm to County Board following public hearing

SRE_FowlerMixer Family Sit

The proposed solar farm in Ellington Township would consist about 7,500 solar panels and cover nearly 22 acres.

QUINCY — The Adams County Board’s Transportation, Building and Technology Committee sent a recommendation to the full board to approve a solar farm near Fowler in Ellington Township, northeast of Quincy.

The item will be on the County Board’s July 9 agenda to propose Summit Ridge Energy to build a 3-megawatt solar farm consisting of about 7,500 solar panels on 21.7 acres near 7917 Ewbanks Road.

Summit Ridge received approval for its first solar farm in the county at the June 11 board meeting. That one will be built in Fall Creek Township south of Quincy.

Another solar farm in Fall Creek Township, also owned by Summit Ridge Energy, LLC., was granted final approval for its special use permit on June 11.

Three neighbors did speak against the project at Tuesday’s hearing, mostly with concerns about the impact on the environment and property values.

“I’ve lived in that area all my life and I’m 71 years old,” said Wayne Drebes. “My brother and I, we own close to 800 acres right there. In my opinion, it will end up being an eyesore in the community.”

Richie Whitaker said the solar farm will be 50 feet from his property line. He quoted studies that said property values decline about 2 percent after such a facility is constructed and also had concerns about the potential impact on his children.

“I just recently purchased this house a year ago and here I am losing equity in it because of a solar farm coming in,” Whitaker said. “I have two young kids at home. I don’t want them possibly getting into something like this — it’s kind of dangerous for them.”

Bridget Callahan from Summit Ridge speaks at Tuesday night’s public hearing on putting a solar farm in Ellington Township. — J. Robert Gough

Bridget Callahan from Summit said there were no studies done in Illinois that showed a decline in property values following the creation of a neighboring solar farm.

Construction traffic was also a concern from the residents. Summit representatives said the project would be built in a 6 to 7 month time frame and the work schedule of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. could be altered.

Summit will have new evergreen trees planted around the facility along with a seven-foot fence. The company also has to ensure the roads will be rebuilt the the same condition as they were before construction started.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will assess the stormwater impact and may require some alterations. Summit said they will have engineers perform geological and irrigation tile surveys and the company will repair any drainage tiling that might be damaged during the process

Summit will work with Ameren in order to establish sending solar power to Ameren customers who request it and can earn solar credits. Callahan said once the credits are factored in, customers can expect about a 10 percent savings on their electric bills.

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