Vistra plotting solar and energy storage at coal sites following Illinois climate act

By Andy Colthorpe
Vistra’s large-scale battery storage project at Moss Landing, California, which repurposed a natural gas plant site. Image: Vistra Energy.

US utility Vistra Energy has welcomed this week’s passing of clean energy policies in the US state of Illinois, stating that they will support 300MW of solar PV and 150MW of battery energy storage it intends to build in the state.

Last week Illinois’ Senate passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which commits the state to deriving 50% of its power from renewables sources by 2040 and 100% of by 2045.

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State governor J.B. Pritzker has said the act is to be passed into lawed as soon as possible, with Vistra looking to build solar and energy storage facilities at nine of its existing coal plant sites.

In a state which like much of the rest of the Midwest US has long been heavily dependent on coal, the act includes provisions to help retrain coal industry workers and support communities to justly transition to the coming clean energy economy. Coal plants in the state must be retired by 2030. 

It also included a Coal to Solar and Storage Initiative, which will make US$280.5 million available to energy storage projects installed at retiring coal plant sites. Vistra Energy, which operates coal plants around Illinois had previously advocated for such a plan, reiterating this call in April as it announced that economic conditions had brought forwards a planned plant closure from 2025 to 2022

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