Clean energy is coming to Chicago courtesy of a new downstate solar energy plant as the city just finalized an agreement to start using clean, renewable energy by 2025. The goal is to run all city operations on 100% renewable energy by 2035.
The contract is with Constellation New Energy LLC. in collaboration with Swift Current Energy and is valued at $422 million with the initial five-year contract starting in January. If plans go into effect, clean energy will be used to power O’Hare and Midway airports, the Harold Washington Library, and the Jardine Water Purification Plant. The Double Black Diamond solar farm, which will be owned by Swift Current Energy, will have the capacity to generate 593 megawatts.
The overall deal will go into place in 2025, with the city planning to use renewable energy from a new solar power farm in Sangamon and Morgan counties. It will be used to partially power its largest energy sources in the Chicago area. The city also plans to buy renewable energy credits from other sources to fund its other power uses, like the small and medium-sized buildings and streetlights throughout the area.
As for when the new solar facility plans to break ground? Construction is expected to start this fall and will help create hundreds of jobs in Illinois. The facility, which is expected to be the largest solar project in Illinois to date, is expected to transform Chicago’s carbon footprint, and the city is now expected to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 290,000 metric tons each year– which is equivalent to emissions from 62,000 vehicles. The new deal will help the city reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 62% as of 2040.
2022 Chicago Climate Action Plan, officials said.
The new contract will also fund job training, education, and other programs in Chicago, focusing on developing a sustainability-focused workforce by providing $500,000 to fund sustainability job training programs. The city has already begun transitioning to all-electric vehicles along with plans to accelerate energy retrofits, which helps save energy in commercial and residential areas.
Learn more about Chicago’s renewable energy plan here.