U Of I To Present Plans For Solar Farm Bordering Savoy

Solar panels at the new University of Illinois Solar Farm.

Solar panels at the University of Illinois Solar Farm on Windsor Road. The university is now making plans for a second and larger solar farm on the outskirts of Savoy, on Curtis Road.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

The University of Illinois is planning a second solar farm on its Urbana campus that will be triple the size of the first one.

Morgan White, who’s in charge of sustainability for U of I Facilities and Services, says that the two solar farms together should provide the campus with 25 gigawatt-hours of solar-generated electricity per year by 2025.

“Our current solar farm gives us seven gigawatt-hours,” said White. “And so, this second one would get us up to that 25, by adding an additional 18.”

White says the second solar farm will help the university meet the long-term goal of its 2015 Climate Action Plan, to be a carbon neutral campus by 2050, with 10% of their electricity coming from on-campus solar generation.

The new solar farm will be built on Curtis Road, across from Winfield Village and other residential developments in Savoy.

Savoy has no direct authority over the project, which will be built outside village limits. But University officials will appear before the Savoy Village Board Wednesday night, to address concerns about the project’s aesthetics and possible noise. The village board study session will begin at 7 PM at Savoy’s McCleary Municipal Center.

Village President Joan Dykstra says she wants the new solar farm to be buffered for safety and aesthetics.

“One of the things I think we’re looking at is, first of all a setback, so that it’s not right across the street, so they’re some feet north,” said Dykstra. “And in addition to that, I believe there must be a chain-link fence to keep people out. But in front of that, it will be important to have fir trees, for instance, conifers, or anything else that’s going to make it look a lot better than a sea of metal and panels.”

Dykstra is also concerned about noise from electrical equipment, but says that a visit to the Windsor Road Solar Farm showed her the noise was not as bad as she feared.

Like the Windsor Road solar farm, White says the University of Illinois plans to hire a contractor that will build and operate the new solar farm, and sell the electricity to the university. After an agreed-upon contractual period passes, the university will have the option of buying the facility.

Story source: WILL