Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 21st April
Clearway Energy Group announces the completion of its first Illinois community solar farm, energizing the 3 MWdc Southland Solar Farm, just outside of Kankakee, and will activate eight more community solar farms in the coming months. Each of Clearway’s Illinois solar farms is subscribed to roughly 350 residential customers, with over 3,000 residential customers subscribed to these first nine projects.
“We are thrilled to activate our first community solar farm in Illinois in time for Earth Day and bring more renewable energy choices to residents,” said Valerie Wooley, Vice President of Origination at Clearway. “While it’s only the beginning, these initial sites represent a commitment to local solar power among residents, municipalities, businesses, universities, and more, while helping customers save money as they choose renewable energy. We thank all those who are coming together to tackle the climate crises and become a community that invests in local clean power.”
The community solar farms are constructed on unused farmland and subscribed to a mix of residential and commercial customers, including Northwestern University and OSF HealthCare. Community solar subscribers will earn monthly solar bill credits that reduce their utility supply charges, creating a transparent savings program that enables the continued development of solar and advances Illinois’ goal of reaching 25% renewable energy by 2025.
“Our partnership with Clearway underscores Northwestern’s commitment to sustainability and supports renewable energy development in Illinois,” said Greg Kozak, Director of Sustainability at Northwestern University. “As Clearway’s anchor subscriber here in Illinois, we’re proud that our long-term financial commitment gave Clearway the financial certainty needed to move these projects from concept to reality.”
The nine community solar farms coming online spring through early summer 2021 are part of Clearway’s larger Illinois portfolio of 19 community solar farms totaling nearly 60 MWdc. Combined, these projects will generate enough renewable energy to offset the power of 11,000 homes or emissions from over 14,000 vehicles each year.
Under the Illinois Shines Program, community solar drives significant workforce and local economic benefits. Clearway’s 60 MWdc portfolio in Illinois created at least 150 jobs through the engineering and construction process as well as several permanent jobs to operate and maintain the sites.
“The entry of OSF HealthCare into a renewable energy purchasing agreement with Clearway is a significant achievement that puts our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability into action,” said Michael Keefe, Manager, Energy and Sustainability, OSF HealthCare. “Purchasing Illinois community solar energy is layered with benefits: it reduces OSF utility costs, it benefits rural communities where many of our medical facilities are located, it supports the state of Illinois’ move to carbon-free energy, and it is emblematic of OSF’s ongoing innovation and leadership in healthcare.”