PEKIN — A solar energy developer that has expressed interest in multiple rural sites in the Peoria area has made its first formal proposal for a solar farm in the region.

Cypress Creek Renewables has submitted plans to the Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals detailing a 2 megawatt solar energy facility proposed for a 30-acre tract of land near the intersection of Illinois Route 29 and East Manito Road.

The $3.9 million project is expected to generate enough electricity to power 300 to 400 homes annually. Power generated at the site will be sold to Ameren and fed into the grid, according to the company's application for a special use permit.

"We typically look for sites that provide a minimum of 20 continuous acres of relatively flat land, in reasonable proximity to power lines/utility substations," said Scott Novack, a senior developer with the company. "This parcel, located outside of Pekin, appears to be positioned well for the development of a solar farm."

The company plans to build solar energy installations capable of generating from 2 to 20 megawatts throughout Illinois in the next two years, with a goal of installing a combined total of 200 megawatts of capacity.

Cypress Creek generally offers landowners $800 per acre annual rent for a 40-year lease — far higher than current average cash rent payments for farmland. The company builds fences around each installation and maintains the land.

Completed projects create a new property tax revenue stream that supports taxing districts such as schools, roads and emergency services.

Cypress Creek also has pledged to use as much local labor as possible during the construction phase of its projects.

The Tazewell County Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the special use permit application at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Feb. 6, with the potential for final approval by the Tazewell County Board later in the month.

Novack said the construction will take about four months and likely will begin early in 2019, if approved. Other projects in the region remain under consideration.

"While our timing is still being worked out, we certainly anticipate moving forward with a number of additional local projects," Novack said. "We are currently working through our development pipeline and evaluating timing of zoning submittals."

Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or mbuedel@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.