Northwestern and Clearway announce historic partnership to bring clean, renewable energy to Illinois

May 21, 2020

The University is the first major commercial subscriber to Clearway’s 60 MW community solar portfolio in Illinois

Clearway Energy Group (“Clearway”) and Northwestern University (“Northwestern”) announced today that Northwestern has signed up for 11.9 megawatts (MW) of Clearway’s community solar projects in Illinois, the equivalent of taking 2,934 cars off the road each year.

Northwestern’s long-term commitment will support the development and construction of 16 of Clearway’s community solar projects in Illinois. The agreement also represents a significant step towards bringing green jobs and clean, renewable energy to Illinois. The partnership also supports Northwestern’s commitment to provide hands-on experiential learning enabling students to engage with and study the physical solar systems and grow as leaders in sustainability.

“We are excited to announce this partnership and long-term community solar agreement with Northwestern University,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group. “Partnerships like these are a welcome reminder that, even amidst the challenges overshadowing our communities today, our country’s institutions and citizens can keep making progress towards building a sustainable energy mix and maintaining a livable climate. Northwestern’s long-term commitment gives Clearway the financial certainty to move these solar farms from concept to reality. It will be commitments like these that collectively serve to prevent future crises and ensure that today’s Northwestern students – and those for generations to come – inherit a thriving clean energy economy.”

“This strategic partnership underscores Northwestern’s commitment to sustainability and supports Illinois’ transition to a greener economy,” said Craig Johnson, senior vice president for business and finance at Northwestern. “We remain committed to achieving the greatest impact by supporting research, integrating sustainability into our culture and campus operations, and creating partnerships like this one that focus on renewable energy and climate change mitigation. From our innovative research, to our engaged students, to our progress in reducing the University’s carbon footprint, we strive to seek new and more sustainable ways to carry out our mission and ensure the environment remains a priority.”

Clearway is the largest community solar provider in the U.S. Today’s milestone comes on the heels of Clearway’s recent announcement that it closed financing on its latest community solar fund of over $200 million, which will enable the construction of new community solar projects in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York.

Community solar allows customers to subscribe to a local solar project, receive credits on their utility bill and reduce their overall electricity costs – all without equipment on their property. Under the Illinois Shines Program, commercial, industrial, municipal and residential community solar subscribers in the ComEd and Ameren utility service territories will receive bill credits directly onto their utility bills.

The model also creates significant workforce and local economic benefits, drawing millions of dollars of investment in the state. Community solar will support Illinois’ goal of supplying 25% of overall electric sales with cost-effective renewable energy resources by 2025.


About Clearway Energy Group
Clearway Energy Group is accelerating the world’s transformation to a clean energy future. With more than 4.3 gigawatts of solar and wind energy assets in 25 states and a development pipeline across the country, the company is offsetting the equivalent of nearly 9 million tons of carbon emissions for our customers. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with offices in Carlsbad, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; Houston, Texas; and New York, New York.

About Sustainability at Northwestern
Northwestern’s sustainability initiatives are led by sustainNU, a University-wide program that aims to engage students, faculty and staff in reducing – and eventually eliminating – Northwestern’s contribution to climate change, leading the way toward a greener, healthier and more sustainable future.

Northwestern recently earned a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability’s Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). Northwestern was also awarded the prestigious U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2020 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award. Other sustainability accomplishments include reducing energy usage per square foot by 18% since 2010, establishing three solar installations, attaining LEED certification for 19 buildings, and achieving a 12% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2012. More information about Northwestern’s Strategic Sustainability plan is available on the sustainNU website.