The General Assembly approved HB 3445 (Rep. Walsh/Sen. Stadelman) prior to adjournment for the spring. The bill includes several changes to energy policy. Of note, the bill amends the statute governing the siting and regulation of wind and solar facilities to make the following changes:
- In provisions concerning regulation of commercial wind energy facilities and commercial solar energy facilities, provides that a public hearing shall be held not more than 60 days (rather than 45 days) after the filing of the application for the facility. ISACo advocated for additional time beyond the 45 day period.
- Provides that the amount of any decommissioning payment shall be in accordance with financial assurance required by the agricultural impact mitigation agreements (rather than limited to the cost identified in the decommissioning or deconstruction plan, as required by the agricultural impact mitigation agreements, minus the salvage value of the project).
- Provides that a facility shall file a farmland drainage plan with the county and impacted drainage districts outlining how surface and subsurface drainage of farmland will be restored during and following construction or deconstruction of the facility, and specifies requirements of the plan.
- Requires vegetation management plans to comply with the agricultural impact mitigation agreement and underlying agreements with landowners where the facility will be constructed.
- Requires a facility owner to compensate landowners for crop losses or other agricultural damages resulting from damage to the drainage system caused by the construction of the facility, repair or pay for damage to the subsurface drainage system, and repair or pay for the restoration of surface drainage caused by the construction or deconstruction of the facility.
- Provides that a facility owner with siting approval from a county to construct a commercial wind energy facility or a commercial solar energy facility is authorized to cross or impact a drainage system, including, but not limited to, drainage tiles, open drainage ditches (rather than open drainage districts), culverts, and water gathering vaults, owned or under the control of a drainage district under the Illinois Drainage Code without obtaining prior agreement or approval from the drainage district in accordance with the farmland drainage plan (removing an exception requiring the facility owner to repair or pay for the repair of all damage to the drainage system caused by the construction of the commercial wind energy facility or the commercial solar energy facility within a reasonable time after construction of the commercial wind energy facility or the commercial solar energy facility is complete).
The Governor will next consider the legislation. ISACo did not take a position on the bill.