Builders of a 1,400-acre solar energy farm proposed for the town of Paris submitted Tuesday an engineering report to the Department of Natural Resources that provides a glimpse of what the project may look like.
Invenergy LLC plans to construct the Paris Solar Farm on leased acreage west of I-94 and north and adjacent to Highway 142.
Up to 300 megawatts of direct current electricity would be generated with photovoltaic panel arrays or modules mounted on single posts. Powered by an electric motor, the panels, perhaps as many as 700,000, would tilt and track the sun’s progression across the sky.
Invenergy hasn’t determined the number of solar modules it will install due to changing market conditions and tariffs on certain imported modules.
The panels would be orientated in north and south rows. During morning and evening hours the panels would be tilted at a maximum angle with the top edge reaching 15 feet above ground and the bottom edge about 18 inches above grade.
After all the permits and approvals are obtained, construction is expected to begin this fall and be completed by mid-2021.
Plans also call for construction of a substation on five acres within the project and a 138-kilovolt transmission line, about a quarter-mile long, in a 100-foot right of way to connect the installation to the existing Paris substation.
At least some of the installation’s output could be retained on site in a battery storage system that would store the solar energy and release it to the grid when desired.
A final configuration hasn’t been determined but it could have a 50-megawatt storage capacity from as many as 30,000 battery modules. The batteries would be connected to the facilities collector substation by an underground 34.5-kilovolt or an overhead 138-kilovolt transmission line.
The battery storage system would be contained in an approximately 12,000-square-foot building.
An 8-foot-tall fence would enclose the site, and security cameras and motion detectors would be installed along the perimeter fence. No barbed wire is being considered for the perimeter fence but on-site security patrols and lighting would be employed as enhanced security measures.
An operations building and entrance gates will be equipped with exterior lighting and would be shielded to keep light within the project’s boundaries.
Limiting access will be necessary to ensure public safety and protect the equipment from vandalism.
A water well and septic system would be added to serve the site.
The site’s terrain is currently farmed and is suitable for solar panel installation with little preparation needed. Stormwater runoff from the installation will be managed as it’s currently configured along the western part of the site toward the Des Plaines River and toward the Root River along the project’s eastern side.
Invenergy is obtaining 50-year lease agreements for the project, which is about how long the company anticipates operating it. When the installation is decommissioned and the equipment, fencing and foundations are removed, the site will be returned to its previous use or a not-yet-determined use.
As required by state statute, the 26-page engineering report was submitted to the DNR at least 60 days before Invenergy plans to file a construction application with the Public Service Commission. Within 30 days, the DNR must list the permits or approvals Invenergy needs to obtain in order to construct the solar installation.
A call to Paris Solar’s project manager, Robert Howard, about the project, was not returned before deadline.