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County Board delays vote on proposed solar farm in southwest Bloomington

McLean County Board postpones vote for solar panels to be installed on this farmland.
McLean County Board postpones vote for solar panels to be installed on this farmland.(WEEK/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:10 PM CDT
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BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - Elected leaders who have the final say whether a solar farm will sprout up in southwest Bloomington are holding off on a decision in hopes local workers will be used to build the project.

Cypress Creek Renewables wants to build the county’s second solar farm, to be located in Dale Township, about a half-mile southwest of Fox Creek Elementary School.

McLean County Board member Jim Rogal, a Democrat, asked for the delay until the June 16 meeting.

“When they came last time and built their solar farm in Downs, they said they would hire local workers. They did not,” said Rogal.

Republican Catherine Metsker voted with the majority “to allow some opportunity for these labor unions to try to get this particular vendor to agree to use local labor,” which I’m in favor of.”

However, Republican George Wendt said it’s hard to find workers anywhere, so he was opposed to the delay.

“I have talked to several different contractors, and everybody is having a hard time getting new employees locally, so when we start talking about getting local people to do this, it’s going to be very difficult,” Wendt said.

Earlier this month, the county’s Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously recommended approval of the special use permit to allow 12 foot high solar panels that would produce power for about 400 homes.

The county’s building and zoning director said he’s been told the panels can generate electricity even on cloudy days.

The company intends to invest $7 million dollars in the project. Construction would begin next year.

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