Why a former garbage dump could be turned into a solar farm

A private company wants to create a solar farm on the site of a former landfill in South Barrington.

The proposal is for vacant land at 541 E. Mundhank Road. The 110-acre site, owned by the Phoenix-based Republic Services waste disposal company, is between Willowmere Drive and North Freeman Road, just west of the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve.

The property was used as a landfill until it was decommissioned in the 1980s, Village Administrator Robert Palmer said.

A New York company called AC Power wants to use about 25 acres of the site for a ground-mounted array of solar panels. The firm has created similar operations in New York and New Jersey and is developing more in those states and elsewhere, including in suburban Cook County, its website indicates.

It’s reportedly developing about a dozen solar farms in Illinois.

AC Power partners with land owners to turn low-value properties such as landfills and quarries into solar farms, with no upfront or maintenance costs to the owners, according to the company’s website.

It already has submitted its plans to ComEd for possible connection to its electrical system, documents indicate. The company also intends to apply to join a community solar program, which would allow nearby homeowners to connect their electricity accounts to the solar farm and get credits on their electrical bills for their share of the power produced.

AC Power representatives presented their concept to the village board in March and intend to seek a special use permit for the proposed array. The next bureaucratic step is a public hearing before the plan commission, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 8, at village hall, 30 S. Barrington Road.

Other companies have proposed solar farms in different suburban areas, including Antioch and near Hawthorn Woods.

That later proposal, which faced significant community opposition, was withdrawn about two weeks ago after Hawthorn Woods annexed the intended site. A legal fight is pending.

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