Red Maple Solar, LLC is proposing the development of a 300-megawatt (MW) alternating current (AC) solar facility and 50MW battery on approximately 1,800 acres of farmland located in Afton and Pierce Townships, DeKalb County, Illinois. The project will connect to ComEd’s electric system via the new Crego Substation, just south of the recent DeKalb commercial development.
Red Maple Solar is expected to operate for 30+ years, providing significant economic investment to the community, a substantial property tax base for the County and schools, and will generate emission-free renewable energy, helping the State of Illinois meet its clean energy goals.
Red Maple Solar is expected to apply for zoning approval in the Summer of 2021 and begin construction as early as the end of 2022, bringing an influx of new jobs to the community. The Project is expected to begin operating by late 2023, or 2024, pending necessary review and approvals.
As a member of DeKalb County, Red Maple will reach out to the local community to introduce the solar park and gather feedback to help inform the final design and operation of the Project. The public and other interested parties will have an opportunity to learn more about the Project, have their questions answers, and provide feedback during a community open-house on Tuesday, June 15th (see below for updates), as well as DeKalb County’s Public Hearing. Red Maple will consider feedback from the community open-house as it advances the Special Use Permit application package for submittal to DeKalb County, to request approval to develop, construct, and operate the Project.
THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT (SUP) PROCESS
As part of the development process for the Project, Red Maple will submit a Special Use Permit (SUP) application to DeKalb County. An SUP is required prior to a company constructing and operating a solar project in DeKalb County.
The County’s zoning procedures requires that any “Solar Farm,” defined as a commercial solar facility of greater than 20-acres, apply for and receive a Special Use Permit prior to construction and operation. Red Maple will submit an application to the County that identifies the proposed Project area and proposed use, as well as compliance with the County’s Solar Energy Systems ordinance. Red Maple will submit its SUP application to the County’s Zoning Administrator for an initial review, which will include all affected County departments. A Hearing Officer will then set a date, time, and place for a public hearing on the Project. The County will notify nearby residents and property owners, as well as publish a notice of hear hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the County not less than fifteen (15) days before such hearing. At the public hearing, any person can provide feedback and consideration about the proposed Project.
Once the hearing is completed, the Hearing Officer will provide its recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Committee. Following the Planning and Zoning Committee review, the request will be sent to the DeKalb County Board for a final decision.
Community Open House
BARSEMA ALUMNI & VISITORS CENTER
Tuesday June 15th, from 6-8PM
231 N Annie Glidden Rd, DeKalb, IL 60115
Thank you for attending the Red Maple Solar’s community open house on June 15, 2021. If you were unable to attend you can download the information boards below and continue to contact our team with any questions or comments.
DeKalb county public hearing
Check back for updates regarding the time, date, and location of the DeKalb County Hearing.
As a dedicated member of the communities we call home, we work hard to earn the trust of our neighbors.
Our involvement goes well beyond job creation, economic investment, and providing clean, renewable energy. We strive to build lasting partnerships with civic leaders and property owners. Throughout the life of every project, we pride ourselves on being transparent in our communication and highly responsive to public feedback.
And most importantly, we believe being involved means giving back. We get to know our neighbors and love supporting the local causes they are passionate about. Whether through employee volunteer opportunities or corporate-level sponsorships, we are always looking for positive ways to stay actively engaged with our communities.
Project Fact Sheet: Download Here
Red Maple Solar, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC, a leading renewable energy producer dedicated to sustainably powering the future. Leeward currently owns and operates 22 renewable energy facilities across nine states, totaling more than 2,000 MW of installed capacity. If approved, the Red Maple Project will be our fifth renewable energy project in Illinois, in addition to our wind farms located in Lee, LaSalle and Bureau Counties.
Leeward is a portfolio company of OMERS infrastructure, a preeminent global infrastructure investment arm of OMERs, one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans with over $78 billion in net assets (as of December 31, 2019).
Responsible development is an ethos that runs deep at Leeward and our subsidiary companies. We develop, own, and operate renewable generation assets for the long term, and are committed to leaving a positive impact on the communities where we operate. We achieve this by prioritizing our values of community partnership, sustainability and safety.
CLICK HERE for more information about Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC.
Solar frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What will the solar facility look like?
The Red Maple solar project will primarily consist of rows of photovoltaic electric generating modules mounted to steel frames that are installed on driven steel posts with central inverters spaced throughout the site. The entire perimeter of the Project site will be fenced for security and safety. Vegetative screening will be implemented at various locations to enhance the visual appeal of the site.
How does photovoltaic solar technology work?
Photovoltaic (PV) modules capture energy from the sun and produce direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity flows to electrical inverters where it is converted to alternating current (AC) electricity. The AC electricity is then combined and transformed to the electrical grid’s voltage at the project substation, where it connects to the utility’s system and is sold to the market.
Will the solar facility produce glare or noise?
Photovoltaic modules are designed to absorb sunlight, not reflect it. The amount of sunlight the modules absorb correlates directly to the amount of electricity produced, thus modules are designed to absorb maximum amounts of sunlight and minimize reflection. In fact, typical solar module glass is constructed with anti-reflective coatings. Solar facilities produce minimal noise as they do not contain large mechanical components. We design our facilities so that any increase in noise from operation is negligible at neighboring properties.
What is the Special Use Permit process?
The Special Use Permit (SUP) process gives DeKalb County the authority to give particular consideration to projects that may have an impact on the surrounding area, or the County. This includes both Solar Gardens and Solar Farms, the latter of which is a commercial solar facility of greater than 20-acres. Red Maples’s SUP application will identify the proposed Project area and proposed use, as well as compliance with the County’s Solar Energy Systems ordinance.
Prior to submitting a SUP application to DeKalb County, we will solicit feedback from the local community through an open-house event. The public and other interested parties will have can learn more about the Project, have their questions answers, and provide feedback during this virtual community open-house. After Red Maple submits an SUP application to the County, and the Zoning Administrator performs an administrative review, the County’s Hearing Officer will set a date, time, and place for a hearing on the application. The County will publish notice of the hearing a newspaper of general circulation in the County, not less than 15 days before the date of the hearing, and also notify nearby residents and property owners.
The County will then conduct a public hearing and hear testimony/receive comments regarding the Project. Following the public hearing, the Hearing Officer will provide its recommendation to the Planning and Zoning Committee. Following the Planning and Zoning Committee review, the request will be sent to the DeKalb County Board for a final decision.
Information on Red Maple’s open-house event and DeKalb County public hearing will be posted to the Community Involvement section of this webpage.
How long will the solar facility be operational?
The average life of a solar facility is approximately 30-40 years, but with proper maintenance, it can last much longer.
Who will maintain the property and vegetation?
Red Maple will be responsible for maintaining the the property. We work diligently with consultants and local stakeholders to ensure proper ground cover, erosion and sediment control, and stormwater management occurs on the Project site. We also implement vegetation management plans and construction best management practices to promote the establishment of native vegetation and manage overgrowth and invasive plant species. As part of the development process, DeKalb County will review our vegetation management plan, which includes noxious weed management.
How will the solar facility proactively address health and safety concerns?
Safety is our number one priority. We manage our projects with the utmost regard for safety, sustainability, and long-term growth. Extensive employee and contractor training is required to meet our safety program standards, and our entire team, starting with our executives, makes a daily commitment to a safe work environment.
Through careful engineering design and strict adherence to safety standards, solar projects pose minimal health and safety risks.
What happens at the end of the Project’s life?
At the end of the life of the Project, Red Maple will be responsible for removing equipment and restoring the site to its original use. As part of the SUP review process, the County will review Red Maple’s proposed decommissioning plan to ensure that ample considerations and funding are provided for when the life of the Project is over.
How will the development of the solar facility affect my community?
Construction of the solar park will bring new employment opportunities, a large direct investment in the community, and local business generated from the purchase of food, fuel, accommodations, and other local supplies. During the construction period there will be a relatively short-term increase in traffic volume and noise, typical of similar projects.
Once the Project is operational, daily traffic to and from the site will be minimal. Throughout the life of the Project, it will not burden DeKalb County services and utilities. The Project will, however, contribute significant property taxes to the community and provide clean energy to the greater Northern Illinois area.
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