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Solar and wind farms were a big point of discussion at Tuesday night’s Ogle County Board meeting.
A bill recently passed by state lawmakers would take control away from the county. Concerns at Tuesday’s meeting was not necessarily about the solar and wind farms themselves, but more about handing power over to the state.
Ogle County Board members and residents said that they are concerned about losing control.
“So, you pick on the smaller communities that have cheaper land prices and you don’t care about their feelings or their health or well-being,” said Benjamin Youman, Ogle County Board District 1 representative. “That’s what we’re here to protect.”
Illinois House Bill 4412, which passed into law during a lame-duck session on January 27, removes local control of solar and wind farms.
“It means the potential for many of us to have to endure what these industrial applications bring to us and the potential of exuberant costs and fees that fall back to the counties, the cities, the townships, the villages,” said Stillman Valley resident John Cox.
Another concern was about what happens to solar and wind farms in the future.
“They’re industrial waste,” Youman said. “You can’t put them in a normal landfill, so the taxpayers have to deal with this, with all the ramifications, and it’s just not right.”
Multiple members of the community spoke out against taking these decisions away from local government.
“The State of Illinois has basically said to all of us, ‘we don’t care at all about where these solar plants, wind turbines, these industrial applications will go,’” Cox said. “So, who cares about the people who desire a rural and peaceful quality of life in our county?”
Senator Steve Stadelman did not vote for the bill in Springfield. He said that “I would like to see more discussions between environmental groups and local governments to find a better balance between maintaining local control of wind and solar projects and removing unnecessary obstacles in the growing industry.”
“By taking away that local community involvement, we’ve sited solar farms here,” Youman said. “We’re open to wind farms, but taking away that right for people to not only voice their concerns but have limitations that we can protect the health of the people here.”
The Ogle County Board is looking into if they can challenge the law.
“It’s not just about wind or solar,” Youman said. “What’s next? What are they going to take away from local control?”
The Winnebago County Board has discussion of House Bill 4412 on their agenda for Thursday.
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