Solar farm – possibly biggest in state – to get public hearings for Phase 2 in Lee County

A preliminary site drawing for phases 1 and 2 of the Steward Creek Solar project. The project is a utility-scale, ground-mounted commercial solar energy facility planned to be built in Alto and Willow Creek townships. Phases 1 and 2 each are designed to produce 600 megawatts.

DIXON – The first of two public hearings before the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals regarding what could be the largest solar facility in Illinois is set for next week.

Hexagon Energy LLC, a Virginia-based company doing business in Illinois as Steward Creek Solar LLC, is seeking a special use permit from Lee County to build Phase 2 of a 1,200-megawatt commercial solar energy facility in Alto and Willow Creek townships.

Phases 1 and 2 of Steward Creek each are designed to produce 600 megawatts – Phase 2 also includes a 150-megawatt battery energy storage system – and together would cover about 9,000 acres, according to Hexagon Energy’s special use permit application.

“If both Phase 1 and Phase 2 are constructed, [Steward Creek] has the potential to be the largest solar energy facility in Illinois,” Lee County Zoning Administrator Alice Henkel said in a previous interview. “Unfortunately, just because a project is approved for a special use permit does not guarantee it will be built.”

She said that, if the Phase 2 special use permit is approved, it still likely will be another two to three years before any construction on Steward Creek would occur.

Phase 1 construction has not yet started, Henkel said. Hexagon Energy doesn’t plan to start building until after Phase 2 is approved, so they only have to mobilize one construction crew, she said.

On Nov. 19, 2020, Lee County Board members granted Hexagon Energy a special use permit for Phase 1.

The Lee County ZBA has scheduled public hearings for the Steward Creek project at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 and 28. The ZBA meets in the third-floor boardroom of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St., Dixon.

Interested parties also can attend the meetings via Zoom.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.