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  • How will the project impact farmland and local agriculture?
    Solar development and traditional agriculture can co-exist side-by-side and increasingly are found together. Responsible solar development provides benefits to both agriculture and ecosystems by improving soil health, retaining water, nurturing native species, and supporting native pollinators which support local food production. In addition, solar farms help farmers and landowners diversify their income by providing a reliable, drought-resistant revenue stream. This steady income means that farmers are less vulnerable to fluctuations in market prices on their products, uncertain trade regimes, and volatile annual weather, thus helping farmers stay in business. Additionally, at the end of its useful life the project will be decommissioned, and the land will be available for all future potential uses, including traditional agriculture.
  • Where will the power generated from the project go?
    The power from Buckheart Solar will be delivered into the local Illinois electrical grid, helping to diversify the state’s energy portfolio. Power generated by the project will be used both locally and transmitted to where it is needed based on demand.
  • What happens when it is cloudy outside?
    Even on a cloudy day, solar panels produce between 10% and 25% of their typical output. Advanced tracking systems also enable solar panels to follow the sun throughout the day and maximize the amount of electricity generated.
  • Will inclement weather damage the panels?
    Panels are capable of withstanding harsh weather elements such as hail, torrential rain, and strong winds. Studies, as well as actual catastrophic events such as hurricanes, have shown that solar farms are able to withstand the harsh weather elements, including the cold, snowy weather of the Midwest.
  • Are solar panels toxic?
    No. Buckheart Solar will utilize monocrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which account for over 90% of solar PV panels installed today. These panels use a crystalline lattice of silicon atoms to convert sunlight into electricity. Silicon is the second-most abundant material on Earth (after oxygen) and the most common semiconductor material used in computer chips. It is non-toxic and does not pose a risk to public health or safety. When a project is decommissioned, panels can be recycled as well as be disposed in landfills designated for this type of material.
  • What will this do to the wildlife?
    Impacts to local wildlife are expected to be minimal. Environmental experts have been assessing the project footprint by conducting site-specific studies to understand and mitigate potential impacts on wildlife. The project will comply with all state and federal regulations associated with wildlife including requirements of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Small local wildlife will be able to come and go through wildlife-friendly fencing, including rabbits and other small mammals as well as turtles and other small reptiles.
  • What is the track record of solar farms leaching chemicals into the ground?
    PV solar panels are designed and built with solid, non-toxic materials confined between glass and a metal frame. When operated as intended, or even in the rare instance when they fail or are damaged, they do not ever leach chemicals into the ground.
  • Once solar panels are removed, can the land be used again for agriculture?
    Yes. The Buckheart Solar Project will be located on private land under long-term lease arrangements and at the end the project’s active life, it will be decommissioned, and the land will be available again for farming. This is in stark contrast to other developments, such as commercial or industrial building projects, which often leave land unusable for agriculture again. After panels are installed, native vegetation - often friendly to bees and other pollinators - will be planted. The deep roots of native vegetation retain more water than turf grass during heavy storms and periods of drought. They also help retain topsoil and improve soil health over time.
  • What happens to solar panels at the end of their life?
    As part of the permitting process, Buckheart Solar will provide a detailed decommissioning plan and a commitment to implement the same. At the end of the project’s useful life (30 years on average), panels can be removed and recycled or disposed of in a licensed landfill. Up to 90% of the materials used in panels, much of which is glass, are recyclable!
  • Are solar panels noisy?
    No, solar panels themselves are completely silent. Certain pieces of equipment on a solar farm, which include invertors, transformers, and motors, do emit a small amount of sound during the day from sunrise to sunset. Transportation and maintenance equipment – including cars, trucks, lawnmowers, and string trimmers – are also a common source of noise on solar farms that most people are used to hearing elsewhere. The impact of this sound is negligible because the equipment is strategically placed within the solar layout and is typically distant from the property lines. Buckheart Solar’s commitment to being a good neighbor ensures that a noise study will be conducted, with measurements taken at a variety of locations around the project site. The project will operate in compliance with all applicable noise requirements.
  • What is the fire risk of a solar project such as this?
    The risk of fire in a utility-scale solar project is incredibly low. Modern solar facilities use a variety of tactics to limit the risk of fire. This includes remote sensing equipment which alerts maintenance crews to any fire danger. Vegetation management beneath the panels also help keep fire risk low. Local fire and EMS departments will utilize public roads and internal access roads to ensure if a fire did ever occur that it would not spread and would be mitigated as quickly as possible.
  • Will stray voltage be a concern for livestock operations near the project?
    No. Utility-scale solar projects must follow strict electrical safety codes governing the design, construction, and operation of any project in Illinois. With modern-day underground collection and transmission lines used in the construction of solar farms, stray voltage will not impact neighboring farms. On-site project staff will oversee the day-to-day operations of the solar farm to assure the site continues to follow all applicable codes and regulations. Additionally, Buckheart Solar will comply with any stray voltage testing required by regulating authorities.
  • Does glare reflect off the panels and cause a nuisance or safety risk?
    Solar panels are manufactured to absorb light and keep any glare to an absolute minimum in order to capture and collect as much of the sunlight as possible to turn it into electricity. Solar panel glare occasionally occurs when an observer sees a direct reflection of the sun caused by a reflection from the surface of a solar panel. As part of its permitting process, Buckheart Solar will conduct a glare analysis of the project to verify that solar panel glare will not impact nearby residents, businesses, or transportation.
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