2,000 acre solar energy complex near Plano? Developer hosting open house Thursday

Plano Skies Energy Center LLC is proposing a 2,000-acre solar energy complex in Kendall County just north of Plano and is hosting an open house on the project from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at the Venue at Procool, 115 E. South St., Suite C, in Plano.

According to the Plano Skies website, the facility, when fully developed, will have the potential to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 20,000 to 60,000 average Illinois homes every year, utilizing 2,000 acres of land.

A portion of the land currently is located within Plano’s municipal limits, but most is in unincorporated Little Rock Township.

According to developers, the facility would create 200 to 350 jobs in Kendall County during the construction phase, plus 1 to 5 permanent, long-term local jobs during its operations stage.

The developers estimate the facility would generate $14 to $30 million in tax revenue over the project’s expected 35-year operating life, helping to fund local school districts, county infrastructure improvements and municipal services such as first responders.

Plano Mayor Mike Rennels said the city has yet to take any official action on the proposal, but confirmed that city and Kendall County officials participated in an informational meeting with the developers earlier this year.

Rennels said the project site would either be fully annexed and become a part of Plano or the portion currently in the city could be de-annexed and the project site remain in unincorporated Kendall County.

Rennels said he is prepared to follow the will of Plano residents, but his personal opinion is that he would rather see the additional land annexed than give existing city territory to the county through de-annexation.

“I’ll do what the citizens want to do,” Rennels said. “But in my personal opinion, I’d rather not lose a portion of the city forever to the county and then have no say in this process.”

Rennels also said that land used for solar farms is taxed at a higher rate than typical agricultural land, its current use.

If Plano were to annex the property, Reynolds said it would permanently expand the borders of Plano and the city would gain more than 1,000 acres of unincorporated territory at a higher tax rate than if it were strictly agricultural.

The 2,000 acres will include all project components, including the solar panels, access roads and other infrastructure necessary for the operation of the facility, according to the company’s website.

The facility would generate electricity for the PJM power grid by interconnecting to the ComEd energy line within the project site.

Rennels said there has been some public feedback on Facebook, and noted that the people who are saying the most are those who are opposed to the facility.

Plano Skies will host a series of open house meetings with the first Thursday to inform the public of the company’s intentions and the details of the project before seeking approval of the city or county.

Rennels said he hopes the people of Plano attend the meetings and get informed on the project.