DeKalb County solar farm projects estimated to go online in early May, Clearway officials say

The timeline for two solar energy projects in DeKalb County are set to go live in the next couple of months, project officials said.

Zadie Oleksiw, spokeswoman for Clearway Energy Group, said the exact date that those projects go live depends on each individual project.

“But you can expect to see more of these projects coming online in the spring, through the summer,” Oleksiw said during a recent media call this month.

Oleksiw’s comments came after Clearway announced it completed its first community solar farm project in Illinois on April 19. That first project is located just outside of Kankakee, solar energy officials said, and is one of the company’s nine Illinois projects set to be completed in the coming months.

Oleksiw later said in an email that the two DeKalb County projects are in DeKalb and Sandwich, both of which are on private property. She said both projects are anticipated to activate in May.

Derek Hiland, community development director for DeKalb County, confirmed one project is located on Twombly Road west of Lucas Road and another is located on Somonauk Road south of Hidden Oaks Lane.

According to an April 19 news release from Clearway, community solar allows individual households, small businesses and commercial customers to subscribe to a solar farm and receive energy credits that reduce their utility supply charges. Clearway officials wrote in the release each of the company’s Illinois solar farms would service about 350 residential customers, with more than 3,000 residential customers subscribed to the nine projects.

The community solar farms are constructed on unused farmland and Illinois commercial customers include Northwestern University and OSF HealthCare, according to the release. Those who subscribe to community solar earn monthly solar bill credits that reduce their utility supply charges.

Barry Matchett, head of external affairs, Midwest and Gulf of Clearway Energy Group, said no resident in Illinois is actually directly connected to a power plant unless you put solar panels on your roof. He said that’s not the focus of community solar, which is where a solar project built in a site that’s suitable for solar construction and the bill for the resident, a ComEd or Ameren electric customer, is offset for production level at that project site.

“There are a lot of reasons for people not to have a solar panel on the roof,” Matchett said. “Like if your roof faces north or you have a tree to your south, or if your roof is on the older side and you can’t actually put this on the roof for structural reasons.”

The savings program is meant to continue solar energy project development and advance Illinois’s goal of reaching 25% renewable energy by 2025, according to the release.

Katie Finlon

Katie Finlon covers local government and breaking news for DeKalb County in Illinois. She has covered local government news for Shaw Media since 2018 and has had bylines in Daily Chronicle, Kendall County Record newspapers, Northwest Herald and in public radio over the years.