Word on the Street: Solar energy’s coming boom will take several years

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Solar farms have been the project du jour for many counties in recent months, thanks to the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act.

Some, like a battle royal in Woodford County over a Eureka-area farm, have been controversial. Many others have sailed through with nary a voice raised in opposition.

But whether you’ll actually see any materialize will depend upon forces beyond any local control.

Peoria County Board members, who have approved permits for a solid double-digit number of such facilities, heard an explanation last month of why many of the projects may not actually come to pass right away so that they’d all be on the same page in understanding the votes they’ve been taking.

The state is allowing a certain number of tax credits for the facilities. And, in true Illinois fashion, they’re divvied up by territory. The higher-population northern part of the state will have more credits, those of us in central and southern Illinois fewer, reflecting the lower number of residents and power users here.

In essence, what solar power firms have been racing to do is sign leases with landowners, get special use exemptions from local governments and connection agreements with power companies — either Ameren Illinois or ComEd — by Jan. 15, 2019.

Then they’re entered into a lottery for the tax credits, which help make it feasible to establish the solar arrays, John Carson, the managing partner of Trajectory Energy, told the board.

Companies such as Trajectory will go ahead and build at locations where they get the state credits, and then “look for ways to finance … or receive renewable energy contracts from other sources” to build additional solar farms.

Carson’s estimate is that within five years, companies will find it economically feasible to construct the arrays without credits. At that point, there is likely to be a renewed boom of construction.

“If you think you’re busy this year, wait until solar pencils out at a level that we’re seeing it in Arizona and California,” he told the board.

Chris Kaergard has covered politics and government. He can be reached at ckaergard@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.

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via News – Chillicothe Times-Bulletin – Chillicothe, IL https://ift.tt/29iXFcl

September 9, 2018 at 05:42PM

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