Jo-Carroll Energy in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions has completed a 2.3 MW solar project in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The now-operation solar farm consists of two solar array sites located near Apple Canyon Lake and Mount Carroll that will provide a tax boost to both counties along with additional benefits to Jo-Carrol and its member-consumers.
The Apple Canyon Lake facility is a community-solar project. Jo-Carroll Energy members who subscribe to this project receive a portion of their energy from the facility, which offers potential electric bill savings while contributing to local renewable energy.
The new solar arrays establish Jo-Carroll Energy as a renewable energy leader in the area. This project diversifies the utility's energy supply with locally generated electricity through multiple solar array sites.
Bluestem Energy Solutions is the project developer and owner. Headquartered in Omaha, Neb., Bluestem has been developing and operating renewable energy projects in states throughout the country since 2012.
Bluestem has entered into long-term land lease agreements with local landowners who will benefit from annual lease payments. Bluestem will plant a "pollinator mix" of local flowers and native seeds beneath the solar panels to benefit area crops, habitat and soil quality.
Jo-Carroll and Bluestem began their partnership in 2017 when the impact of the new Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) was still unclear.
"FEJA provided both risk and opportunity to utilities across the state, but it was known that a project done responsibly could bring value to a utility," said Jamie Goldenberg, director of origination for Bluestem." Through the vision of Mike Casper, Jo-Carroll Energy's president and CEO, Bluestem put together a plan and capitalized on the unique opportunity to deliver value to Jo-Carroll and its member-consumers."
An estimated $290,000 in property tax revenue paid by Bluestem will support local schools and other services in both counties throughout the life of the solar project.
"Jo-Carroll Energy's mission is to enhance the quality of life for our members," Casper said. "The Bluestem projects provide support to our communities and represent a community solar opportunity for our members to support the development of local solar power with potential savings."