Residential and commercial subscribers helped Clearway bring its first Illinois solar farm online in time for Earth Day, moving the state closer to its renewable energy goals
SAN FRANCISCO and CHICAGO – Clearway Energy Group (“Clearway”) announced today the completion of its first Illinois community solar farm, expanding access to local and affordable renewable energy in the state. Clearway will energize the 3 MWdc Southland Solar Farm, just outside of Kankakee, and will activate eight more community solar farms in the coming months.
Community solar is a new model of clean energy development for Illinois that allows individual households, small businesses, and commercial customers to subscribe to a solar farm and receive energy credits that reduce their utility supply charges. 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 nine community solar farms coming online this spring through early summer 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.
Constructed on unused farmland, the community solar farms are 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 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.”
“Our home had too much shading for rooftop panels, so we opted for a community solar subscription,” said Clearway residential subscriber Tracey McFadden. “Community solar was a more convenient way to support renewable power, and we liked that the program generated local solar right here in Illinois. It was easy to sign up and we’re looking forward to the benefits of the program, but mostly, it feels good to help make a difference with clean energy.”
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.
Clearway is the market leader in community solar with more than 200 MW of projects nationwide serving over 20,000 customers, and an Illinois portfolio that represents a $160 million investment in the state. Last year, Clearway closed financing on three major community solar funds totaling more than $200 million in market value.