URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– Plans are moving forward for an Urbana solar farm that could help low-income families.  

The city council approved a special permit letting a developer use part of a landfill near East University Avenue and I-74. 

Right now, the land has a 4-megawatt solar farm. It powers Urbana city building and helps low-income housing.  

“The big picture is we wanna advance more clean renewable energy,” said Scott Tess, Sustainability & resilience officer for the city. 

The one they have now has been so successful, they have approved a different developer to come in and do the same.  

“We lease the land to a solar developer and then they go out and work to get incentives through the state of Illinois, there’s a number of different incentive programs,” said Tess.  

He says Total Energies has already signed a lease agreement, and since the special permit was approved, he says they will start looking for those incentive programs.  

“The one that they are definitely going to apply for is yet again the low-income community solar credit that we’ve used in the past,” said Tess. 

The incentive guarantees families who qualify half off their electric bills. So, if they were paying 10 cents per kilowatt, they would pay 5 cents. 

 “We own the land the solar developer leases it from us, they are responsible for all the surface vegetation and keeping it mowed, they make more renewable energy available to subscribers in the area, and they pay the city a lease rate and they pay taxes to the TIF district,” said Tess. 

 Tess says it’s a Win-Win. Not only are families saving money, but the developer is investing money back into the community in the tax increment financing district. Which can be used to pay for other community projects such as business development.  

The developer still needs to apply for those incentives before they can start construction.  

Tess hopes it will be ready by next year.