Exelon and SunPower are joining forces on what is being called the largest solar power plant in an urban setting in the United States. The 10-MW PV installation, scheduled for completion by year’s end, will be built on a former industrial site on Chicago’s South Side.
For the $60 million project to go forward, Exelon must receive a federal loan guarantee of up to 80% of the project cost from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program Office. The utility company hopes to capitalize on clean energy provisions of the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus package.
Exelon plans to lease 39 acres of the West Pullman Industrial Redevelopment Area from the city of Chicago for the project. The former industrial site, a “brownfield” property, will be redeveloped for productive reuse.
Exelon Generation will own and operate the plant and market the electricity and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates that it generates. SunPower will design, manufacture, and install the system, which will be comprised of 32,800 high-efficiency crystalline-silicon PV panels installed on the solar company’s proprietary tracking systems. Once completed, the array will provide enough electricity to power 1200-1500 homes per year.
The companies said that the environmentally sustainable design supports the city’s efforts to create an environmental legacy for its residents. The project will create about 200 jobs at prevailing wage rates during construction, maximizing the use of local labor and offering job training opportunities. The solar power systems will include many U.S.-made components, including steel tubing sourced from businesses on Chicago’s South Side.