Proponents of $70M solar project say it would bring millions in tax revenue to Knox County

Proponents of $70M solar project say it would bring millions in tax revenue to Knox County

GALESBURG — A $70 million, utility-scale solar project that would use 380 acres of land and bring millions of dollars in property tax revenue over the life of the project could be coming to Galesburg and Knox County.

Blackberry Solar, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Illinois-based Trajectory Energy Partners, is developing a 50 MWac utility-scale solar project on an approximately 380-acre area of agricultural land located in Knox County. The Blackberry Solar project will be located on six parcels, one of which is located within the jurisdiction of the city of Galesburg in the 1400 block of South Farnham Street near Fifth Street. All other parcels comprising the solar project are located within the jurisdiction of Knox County.

Trajectory Energy Partners says it brings together communities, organizations and land owners to develop clean energy projects that are integrated into the local landscape and community.

An agenda item on the Galesburg Planning & Zoning Commission meeting for Jan. 11 says the company is seeking a variance of setback, fence height and time limitation for a property located in the 1400 block of S. Farnham St. Development Review Committee members recommended approval of the variance request at its Dec. 29, 2021, meeting.

Ken Springer, president of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development, explains the project in more depth in his Q&A for The Register-Mail.

Q: How long has the Blackberry Solar project been in the works?

Springer: Trajectory Energy Partners has been developing this project for some time and KCAP has been working with them since late 2020. We actually met Trajectory in 2018 during the period of time when a large number of community solar projects were being permitted and we stayed in touch since that time. Trajectory is an Illinois-based company and the project manager for Blackberry Solar is based in Peoria. They have been nothing short of excellent to work with so far.

Q: What exactly will the project be, and what will it be used for?

Springer: This is going to be a pretty big solar project. It’s 50 Mw and is considered a utility-scale project. Like other utility-scale projects, the power will be sold to a power purchaser via the grid. The footprint of the project will utilize about 380 acres and it will be a $70 million investment into Knox County.

Q: What involvement will KCAP have in this project?

Springer: KCAP is assisting Trajectory with the local approvals and permitting for the project. A portion of the project will be in the city limits of Galesburg and it will also require conditional use permits from the county as well. We will be active in supporting this project through both the city and county approval processes. Trajectory is not requesting any local incentives from either the city or Knox County.

Project would create construction jobs in Knox County

Q: How will the the Knox County area benefit from the project?

Springer: The property tax estimates for the project are significant and will provide considerable benefit to the community. Trajectory is projecting $300,000 in property taxes paid in the first year, with a total of about $5 million in property taxes over the 35-year life of the project. In addition, the project will employ a large number of workers during the construction phase.

Q: What is the timeline for the project?

Springer: The current plan is for the project to be built in 2023.

Source: The Register-Mail

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