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News Gazette Mailbag question about Solar Farm

Posted by Morgan White on September 2, 2016

UI solar farm

“The solar panel field located near the corner of Windsor Road and First Street has become overgrown with tall weeds. Do the panels still work with that much foliage under and above them? Also, would hiring sheep or goats to ‘mow’ the weeds be harmful to the sheep or goat (heat from the panels)?”

The Solar Farm on the University of Illinois campus was implemented as a power purchase and land lease agreement with Phoenix Solar South Farms, LLC, said Steve Breitwieser of the UI’s Facilities & Services Department.

“The agreements designate Phoenix as responsible for all maintenance of the Solar Farm during the 10-year contract, and this includes vegetation control.

“A contractor hired by Phoenix was on site in mid-June, and they are performing additional weed control activities this week.”

When the agreement with Phoenix ends, Breitwieser said, the UI will assume Solar Farm maintenance responsibilities.

And — how about this? — preliminary discussions have begun with research faculty regarding the use of sheep or low-height food crops in the future, he said.

Meanwhile, neighboring plant growth has not impacted solar production, said Breitwieser.

Solar array data can be viewedat: