Many upset about possible solar plant

Local News

SIDNEY, Ill. (WCIA) — One of the largest solar plants in Illinois might be built here, but many residents say they don’t want that to happen. 

Monday night, the village board meeting was packed with people who say there’s no benefit to having this in their town. Many spoke up about their opposition to it and there wasn’t anyone in the room who was in favor of the plan. 

A company, called BayWa r.e., plans to lease 1,200 acres from landowners in Sidney. That’s about 60 times the size of the solar farm at UI and almost as big as the school’s entire Champaign-Urbana campus. 

One reason it could be built in Sidney is because it has to connect directly in to the Ameren power substation outside of the village. But every person at the village meeting was upset by the plan for many reasons. 

Candace Thurman says, “Who would want to come to Sidney to move their family here when there is a solar farm that is as big as the University of Illinois? Driving down the country roads and what are you going to see but a solar farm instead of the country sides.”

Tim Osterbur says, “All the factors throw red flags for us. The Village of Sidney and Champaign County want to know how it benefits us. And we can’t get that answer. There’s no direct benefit to the Village of Sidney or the county.” 

Before any solar farms are built in Champaign County, the Zoning and Planning Board has to write an ordinance establishing rules for them. 

In the end, this decision will ultimately go to the county board. Zoning officials say some landowners already have tentative agreements in place. The energy from the plant would go to the national grid. 

The zoning board has a meeting Thursday night and many people from Sidney say they plan to show up and publicly express their concerns.

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