YORKVILLE – Kendall County and Yorkville city officials are working out additional details to save some money and move forward on a solar energy project near the county jail.
Matt Kellogg, county board member and chairman for the county's facilities management committee, said the initial special use permit with the United City of Yorkville called for specific fencing and landscaping requirements for the solar field, which would be located on a 7.4-acre parcel just west of the Public Safety Center in Yorkville. The city originally required those fencing parameters to include a 7.5-foot height, which would cost the county and taxpayers $175,000, he said.
Since a 7- or 8-foot fence would cost a lot less and materials used could also lower cost, Kellogg said, the county is now working with the city to possibly amend the special use permit so the county can save taxpayers more money in up-front project costs.
“We’re trying to make it make sense,” Kellogg said.
The update comes after the County Board approved several measures related to the solar field project in March 2018. It also comes after the Yorkville City Council approved a special use permit for the project in December 2018.
The county also received state credits for the project in May 2019 after the city issued the permit for the solar field a month before then.
County officials said the county getting its power from the solar field – which will be used to power the courthouse, Public Safety Center and Health and Human Services building – is expected to save county taxpayers $160,000 annually, or $4 million total.
Kendall County Administrator Scott Koeppel had said that, per the 25-year power purchase agreement and companion land lease agreement approved in March 2018, the county would be leasing the land to Chicago-based GRNE Solar, then would buy power from the solar company. He had said the agreement wouldn't cost the county anything beyond the cost of the energy itself.
Koeppel said the special use permit also required certain landscaping for screening purposes outside of the fence to benefit nearby residences and the Rush-Copley Healthcare Center campus. He said the county may have to go through the special use permit application process again to make the proposed cost-savings adjustments.
Koeppel said the goal is to have land clearing and fencing installation completed before the ground freezes this year. He said the goal is to have all of construction completed and for the field to go on line by this coming spring.
“The whole goal is to save taxpayer money and power … so the more efficient that we can be, the better,” Koeppel said.