Chicagoland Speedway could become the host site for a 30,000-panel solar farm used to generate electricity for the power grid.
The speedway solar farm would include solar arrays at four sections of the property with 30,072 solar panels in total. Chicagoland Speedway is one of many property owners, including farmers, lining up public permits in hopes of being selected as solar power generation sites for a statewide program that begins in January. The Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals last week approved zoning exemptions allowing the solar farm at the speedway.
“Illinois is rolling out a solar incentive initiative that is statewide,” Matthew Nelson with IGS Solar told the board Thursday.
IGS Solar is a solar power generation company that is a partner with Chicagoland Speedway on the project. Nelson said the panels will not be noticeable away from the racetrack because of fencing and landscaping.
“These panels – you won’t see them beyond the screening of the security fence,” he said.
But two speedway neighbors suspect they would be easier to see than Nelson suggested.
“I’m all for it, but I don’t want to see it,” Ronald Plunk said.
Blunk and Wes Jones said they were concerned there was not enough landscaping around the future solar panel area. Board Chairman Ed Hennessy suggested the neighbors meet with city staff to ensure there is enough landscaping to block the solar panels from the neighbors’ view.
The panels would be installed in four areas of the Chicagoland Speedway property: 15,808 at the Southeast Outfield Parking Lot; 5,070 at the East Central Parking Lot; 6,048 at the Northwest Pond; and 3,146 at the Helipad Lot.
Nelson said the site will be among many applying to participate in the incentive program to provide solar power to ComEd and other power companies that in turn could be bought at a discount by power consumers.
“This is a way to participate in the program,” Nelson said. “This is solar for everyone.”