Pictured is the footprint of a large-scale solar farm proposed to be built south of Dixon.
Pictured is the footprint of a large-scale solar farm proposed to be built south of Dixon.

DIXON – The Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone is taking steps to make way for a proposed 4,000-acre solar farm south of Dixon.

In March, the Quad Cities Regional Economic Development Authority agreed to expand its enterprise zone boundaries for the utility-grade solar development being proposed by Duke Energy Renewable Solar LLC.

It would be located on a large footprint south of the industrial park on state Route 26 in South Dixon Township.

"Just for scale, an example, the city of Dixon is about 5,000 acres, so as a comparison, this is a significantly large project," said Andy Shaw, Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone administrator and GIS specialist at Blackhawk Hills Regional Council.

The local zone only had about 560 acres to spare for new development, so the QCREDA is handling incentives for the project, Shaw said.

The City Council had a public hearing today to amend the Lee-Ogle zone by moving a connecting strip of land so it doesn't overlap with the project boundary.

Two zones can exist in the same county, but they can't overlap, Shaw said.

No one had comments or questions during the hearing, and council members did not discuss the project during the meeting, which was streamed live on the city's Facebook page.

Shaw said public comments still will be accepted for the next 5 days. Written comments can be mailed to Shaw at 309 First Ave. in Rock Falls or emailed to leeoglezone@blackhawkhills.com

All governing bodies in the zone must approve an ordinance to amend it.

The goal is to have the project online in 2023; it would generate 200 to 500 megawatts of power per year, larger than any existing projects in the state.

Estimated costs for a 500-megawatt solar system would be around $450 million, according to the enterprise zone application, but the project is in early development stages.

Long-term leases have been signed by multiple landowners, project manager Tyler Coon told Sauk Valley Media last month, and next steps include pursuing an interconnection agreement with PJM Interconnection and obtaining permits at the state, county and local levels.

Enterprise zones offer development incentives including property tax abatement, sales-tax exemption on building materials and state investment tax credits.

For more local news, visit SaukValley.com at https://www.saukvalley.com.

Lee County