Will County pitches for eco-friendly projects

Officials note zoning change and plan for electric vehicles

Lion Electric has begun manufacturing all electric buses at their new plant in Joliet. Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Joliet.

Officials are giving notice of initiatives to make Will County more inviting to green industries.

Will County has taken measures to open sites for battery energy storage facilities, find locations for electric vehicle charging facilities and reduce barriers to electric vehicle ownership, according to a news release from the county.

It all adds up to a pitch for green industries to take a close look at Will County, officials said.

“We recognize that green jobs are the future,” County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant said in the release. “We’re positioning the county for a clean energy revolution that will significantly boost our economy.”

The county has enacted a zoning measure allowing battery energy storage facilities to open in unincorporated areas. The facilities store renewable energy during periods of low cost or overproduction to be used when demand for power increases.

A zoning amendment approved by the County Board classifies the facilities as minor utilities permitted in industrially zoned areas, according to the release.

“This simple change in zoning helps keep Will County at the cutting edge of the clean energy industry,” said Tyler Marcum, Will County Board Land Use and Development Committee chairman.

Will County also has initiated an Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan to identify locations for charging infrastructure that can be used for both personal and commercial electric vehicles.

The plan includes a strategy to make electric vehicles accessible for low-income residents.

County officials said their initiatives complement the efforts of the Will County Center for Economic Development to attract Lion Electric to Joliet and Hyzon Motors to Bolingbrook, adding about 1,500 jobs to the region.

“Companies like Lion Electric and Hyzon Motors provide a great foundation that will attract more companies in related sectors looking to invest in the region,” Doug Pryor, CEO and president of the CED, said in the release.