Legislation passes to protect local enterprise zone area from wind, solar developments
‘Senate Bill 1127 will protect the major investments made by the City of Rochelle’
ROCHELLE — This week in Springfield, a bill to protect the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone in and near Rochelle from future solar and wind developments passed unanimously in the House and Senate. The bill will now go before Gov. JB Pritzker for a signature to potentially be signed into law.
Senate Bill 1127 was filed by Rochelle’s State Senator, Win Stoller (R-Germantown Hills), in response to House Bill 4412, which was passed and signed earlier this year and sets statewide standards for wind and solar farm siting and takes away previous local controls such as at the county level. The state would effectively be able to greenlight large solar or wind developments without the say of local governing bodies.
City of Rochelle officials and Stoller took issue with HB 4412’s potential impact on the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone earlier this year. Since its inception, that area near Rochelle has seen major investment by the city, county and state in an effort to attract industrial development. Local officials did not want to see a large solar or wind development greenlit in the area without local say and make that investment for naught. SB 1127 exempts the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone from the state’s new siting rules.
“Since its inception, the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone has been a catalyst for industrial development, increased equalized assessed value (EAV), jobs and $100 million of utility, road and rail infrastructure,” Mayor John Bearrows said in response to the new bill. “SB 1127 will protect the major investments made by the City of Rochelle and the State of Illinois over the past decade. As the city works to attract new industrial and manufacturing opportunities, we remain committed to business retention and expanding our utility portfolio in renewable/green energy. We appreciate Sen. Stoller, who introduced SB 1127, and others in Springfield who supported it and worked diligently to preserve the spirit and incentives provided by the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone.”
Included in the Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone is a 1,000-acre designated area along Interstate 39 and Interstate 88 stretching from Rochelle’s industrial district area into Lee County.
“Local leaders and officials have spent years and millions of dollars creating and building an enterprise zone in Lee and Ogle Counties,” Stoller said in a statement. “All of their years of hard work and investment faced the serious threat of being undone because of new and controversial statewide siting standards for renewable projects that ignored preexisting enterprise zoning.”
SB1127 passed the House with a vote of 101-0. The bill protects the land within a four-mile radius of the intersection of Interstates 39 and 88 from being developed into wind or solar energy sites.
State Rep. Bradley Fritts (R-Dixon) also released a statement on SB 1127’s passing and thanked City of Rochelle Economic Development Director Jason Anderson, Bearrows, Stoller and Lee County Industrial Development Association Executive Director Tom Demmer for their work on the legislation.
“Thanks to many years and millions of dollars of investment from federal, state and local government, the dual-rail megasite in northeast Lee County is a prime spot for industrial development and job creation,” Demmer said of the enterprise zone. “This bill helps ensure we can make the most of those infrastructure investments and attract projects that will add jobs to our local economy.”