STOCKTON, Ill. — An upswing of solar power is coming to Jo Daviess County.
Construction recently started on two solar arrays in the county — one near Stockton and the other near Apple Canyon Lake. Both arrays stem from a state program under Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act, which seeks to promote the development of renewable energy in the state.
The array located on West Apple Canyon Road will be about 10 acres in size and help provide energy to customers of Jo-Carroll Energy.
The project near Stockton will be a 2.7-megawatt system, covering 40 acres and providing energy for customers of Commonwealth Edison Co., or ComEd, according to Eric Tison, planning and development administrator for Jo Daviess County.
Under the Clean Energy Jobs Act, solar energy installations were eligible to receive renewable-energy credits from the state to offset construction costs, though only a limited number of projects were approved through a lottery system. A total of 11 projects were proposed in Jo Daviess County.
“The other projects were contingent on the approval from the state,” Tison said. “These two projects are the ones moving forward.”
Jesse Shekleton, director of engineering for Jo-Carroll Energy, said the Apple Canyon Lake Solar Farm will have about 4,500 solar panels and will be a 1.2-megawatt facility. The array is being developed by Bluestem Energy Solutions, of Omaha, Neb.
Shekleton said all of the energy produced from the solar array will be purchased by Jo-Carroll. The co-op also is constructing a 1,900-panel solar array in Carroll County.
Upon its expected completion time of mid-October, Shekleton said, co-op members will be able to enroll in a program to have their energy come from the solar arrays, which could possibly reduce electric bills.
About 15 workers will be hired for the construction of the two solar arrays, and Shekleton added that long-term staff will be needed for the maintenance of the facilities throughout their 25-year lifespan.
Shekleton said the development of the solar arrays marks a major step in the county moving further toward the widespread utilization of renewable energy sources.
Mark Raeder, principal with Summit Ridge Energy, said the Stockton solar array is anticipated to be completed by May and similarly will allow customers to subscribe to the project to utilize the energy created from the facility.
The facility is also expected to create jobs locally, Raeder said.
“It creates 40 to 50 jobs for the company that we are hiring to install it, and it creates four to five jobs for ongoing operations and maintenance,” he said.