Kane Officials Say New Solar Field Will Save The County $200,000 A Year


A new solar field is now operational that will provide more than half of the electricity for the nearby Kane County Judicial Center and Jail in St. Charles.

A switch powering up the 4,000 solar panels was turned on Friday by Kane County officials at the 10-acre site.

Officials said the installation of the solar field was the result of an effort between Kane County, Nelnet Renewable Energy and Progressive Business Solutions through a purchasing agreement with no upfront cost to Kane County for the design, permits, finance or construction of the project.

The solar field will be owned, operated and maintained by Nelnet Renewable Energy. The county will purchase the power from Nelnet at a reduced rate.

The project was developed by the Kane County Environmental and Water Resources Department and members of the Kane County Board Energy and Environmental Committee.

The project is being called a “milestone” by Kane County officials.

“Our new solar field marks another milestone in our commitment to reducing Kane County’s carbon footprint,” said Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog. “The benefits to the environment and the reduction in what the county pays for energy are measurable.”

Kane County Board member Mavis Bates, who is chair of the board’s Energy and Environmental Committee, said the new solar field is good for the county now and in the future.

She said that “for the taxpayers of Kane County … the panels have not cost us anything and will save us $200,000 a year over 25 years or more than $5 million over the life expectancy (of the panels).”

Bates said the county ”did not pay anything upfront to do this except for staff time which was extensive.”

“Our price upfront – our outlay was zero dollars,” she said.

What the county did have to provide was the site, which she said was considered undesirable for development “because it’s a pile of spoil from the other buildings that were built at the judicial campus including the judicial building, the jail and most recently the multi-purpose building. They just plopped all the dirt and gravel and mud in this corner and it became an unbuildable location except for some beautiful solar panels.”

Officials said that Kane County will purchase power from the solar field at a 32% discount from the price it paid its prior energy provider.

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