City of Chicago to buy 100% renewable power by 2025, starting with 593MW PV project

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Swift Current Energy will develop, own and operate a 593MW solar PV plant that will provide electricity to the city of Chicago. Image: Pedro Lastra via Unsplash.

The US city of Chicago has committed to purchasing renewable energy for all City facilities and operations by 2025 and has entered into an agreement with electricity supplier Constellation for the purchase of renewable power as the first part of that process.

Developer Swift Current Energy, in collaboration with Constellation, will develop a 593MW solar PV plant to initially provide the electricity to facilities in Chicago.

The installation, which is among the largest announced to date in the state of Illinois, is expected to start construction before the end of this year and will be located in downstate Sangamon and Morgan counties.

By 2025, the solar facility will supply renewable energy to several buildings in Chicago such as its airports, the Harold Washington library centre and the Jardine water purification plant.

Under the agreement, retail electricity supplier Constellation will start supplying electricity to Chicago in January 2023 for an initial duration of five-years.

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of the city of Chicago, said: “The signing of this agreement demonstrates that the City of Chicago is leading by example and driving high-impact climate action, building the clean energy workforce of the future and equitably distributing meaningful benefits to foster the local clean energy economy for all.”    

The 593MW ‘Double Black Diamond Solar’ project will be made in compliance with the state of Illinois’ Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), approved last year, in terms of labour requirements and the diverse workforce for utility-scale renewable projects.

Karen Freeman Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, said: “Over the past few years, more than 200 individuals have gone through our solar panel installation training program, and some of our graduates were incredibly proud to be part of the team that completed one of the largest solar projects in Chicago earlier this year — the installation of a solar roof and carport at our headquarters.” 

Furthermore, the agreement with Constellation and Swift Current Energy will help fund job training, apprenticeships and other programmes that will be focused on the development of clean energy.

The city has also allocated investments in the Chicago Recovery Plan to accelerate energy retrofits and renewable energy generation, starting with libraries in historically underserved communities on the South and West sides.

Additionally, Chicago will also procure renewable energy credits (RECs) from other renewable sources for the remainder of its power use, including small and medium-sized buildings and streetlights.

Lightfoot’s predecessor, Rahm Emmanuel had previously pledged to have Chicago’s buildings use electricity from 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Chicago has set the goal to run all its operations on 100% renewable energy as well as all the electricity consumed in the city comes from clean and renewable sources by 2035.

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