Solar field development seeks funding from Johnson County Supervisors

The Johnson County Solar Project requested funding from the Johnson County Supervisors on June 23.


Grace Colton

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is seen at a public forum for the 2020 fiscal year budget at the Johnson County Administration Building on Wednesday February 27 2019.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

The Johnson County Solar Triangle project is seeking funding from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors to create a solar field in the county that would generate more energy than the University of Iowa uses in a year.

The Johnson County Solar Triangle project will span over 4,000 acres of county land.

Sean Kennedy, a project developer at Megawatt Photovoltaic Development, sought approval from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning. Kennedy proposed $1,719,740 of funding from the Johnson County Industrial Revenue Bond.

“Not only is building solar a passion of mine but trying to find ways to work with communities,” Kennedy said.

The project has accumulated 1200 acres between Iowa City and Hills but is aiming for a larger area of land, Kennedy told the Supervisors. The area where the solar panels would be located is being called the Johnson County Solar Triangle, he said.

Kennedy said the project is in discussion with 10 landowners to accrue the land needed for the solar panels.

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“There’s about a 4,000-acre area and we determined that we wanted to focus on building the project,” Kennedy said. “Not only because it was available agricultural land or agricultural land that might be available, but also there are multiple transmission lines moving through the area.”

Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglas said the outcome of long-term jobs after the original build of the project, which is set to be shovel-ready by spring of 2023, may be difficult to predict for the future of the project.

“You have about 250 construction jobs… but there was no quantification there on that and 250 jobs is great during the project but like, ongoing, what is the benefit,” Green-Douglas said.

Supervisor Royceann Porter said the proposal does not share the project’s community outreach or future benefits.

“We’ve really over the last five years have had a lot of input by working with the school district, working with the university… working on concepts with the City of Iowa City for water treatment and solar,” Kennedy said. “Not until we got to 1,000 acres did we go public with this project.”

The Johnson County Supervisors referred the proposal of the Solar Triangle project the bond counsel for consultation.

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