From Big Ten to Big Sun? University of Northwestern signs up for 11-MW of community solar

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The University of Northwestern just made a long-term commitment to support the development and construction of 16 community solar projects in Illinois — about 11.9 megawatts (MW) — via the Clearway Energy Group. That’s the equivalent of taking 2,934 cars off the road each year.

“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,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group.

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.

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“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.”

Clearway is the largest community solar provider in the U.S. This deal 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.

— Solar Builder magazine


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