Skip to main content

Solar field project proposed in Macon Township

By
MARY KAY McPARTLIN

The open fields of Macon Township may soon transform into solar fields, bringing a new crop for area farmers and much needed revenue to local school districts. Invenergy, based in Chicago, has been investigating the area as a potential site for a solar field and working with Macon Township and landowners.
“They’ve been around here looking for four or five years,” said Lee Wagner, Macon Township supervisor. “In October they applied for a permit for special land use.”

According to Wagner, there have been several solar companies interested in Macon properties over the last few years. The interest in the township resources inspired the board to enact new zoning requirements to protect the residents and the township.

“We worked on zoning to keep it under control,” Wagner said. “They have to do screening with trees, and they aren’t coming right up tight to the road or come up tight to the houses.”

Invenergy had to set up lease agreements with landowners to determine whether they would have enough land for the project needs. “I assume they got enough because they are serious now,” Wagner said.

Invenergy has plans to lease 2,500 acres of land in the township, with 800 acres planned for the solar field. The largest area of parcels is located on the block bounded by Ford Highway, Welch Road, Mills Macon Road and Pennington Road. Much of that farmland was previously owned by Leland Bush and Sons who sold its acreage to Ceres Farm Holdings of South Bend, Ind., in 2013.

In regular contact with Macon Township, Invenergy has been good to work with during the process. “We had talks with them and different meetings with them,” said Wagner. “They are not afraid to answer questions. They are upfront with everything.”

Income generated from the Invenergy project will benefit a variety of people. “It will generate some money. The schools will get the biggest amount of revenue,” Wagner said. “The county gets some and the state. Their tax money will help us with roads.”

If approved, the project will require some disruption to the area during installation of the solar arrays, mostly with truck traffic. After the installation, it will be a low-profile operation.

“There will be a lot of trucks, they are talking to the county road commission. They are covering all the angles,” said Wagner. “Once this is in and done there isn’t going to be traffic. They said six to eight people to run the whole thing.”

David and Ada Stiles, property owners who live on Britton Highway, have leased 83 acres of their farm to Invenergy. In a letter sent to Wagner and to the Herald, Stiles expressed his support of the solar project and benefits to the community.

The benefits of the energy generated by Invenergy, he believes, are a financial benefit to those families who are leasing their properties and to the community from the additional tax revenue. “We visualize many desirable benefits to all of our neighbors in Macon Township, beyond the obvious benefit to ourselves,” said Stiles. “I and all neighbors, having signed on to the project, have or will be given the full presentation by Invenergy, detailing the whole project, from startup to full operation.”

There have been few complaints about the proposed solar project made to the township. “I think most people are good with it,” Wagner said.

The Macon Township meeting planned for December 9 where Invenergy would present the project for consideration had to be rescheduled due to restrictions on gatherings made by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The meeting is now a Zoom meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m.
“They are going to do a complete presentation,” said Wagner.

For those interested in attending, the Zoom meeting is available at us02web.zoom.us/j/87469730906. The webinar code 874 6973 0906. The meeting can also be accessed by calling 312.626.6799 and giving the webinar code.

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates