Sol Systems announced the execution of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Prairieland Energy, Inc. (PEI), a University of Illinois-related organization. This 20-year PPA supports the development, construction, and operation of a 12.1 MW solar farm at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The system is projected to produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of solar power annually and triples renewable energy production on the Urbana campus.
This innovative and customized PPA structure will yield cost savings for the university of approximately $300,000 in the first year and an estimated $5 million over the life of the project. Sol Customer Solutions (SCS), the joint venture between Capital Dynamics and Sol Systems, will design, build, operate, finance, and maintain the solar farm for the life of the PPA.
“This project is noteworthy not only due to the considerable savings and how significantly it advances the overall sustainability goals for the university, but also because it was designed to provide habitat for wildlife,” said Andrew Gilligan, vice president of Sol Customer Solutions.
SCS engineers will design the project to integrate nature in a way that creates a robust, multifunctional landscape that is supportive of the Bee Campus USA designation proudly earned by the Urbana campus. The project includes a pollinator habitat that will be planted in the areas under the panels to enhance ecosystems for local and migratory birds and insects, including bees and butterflies. The university’s Facilities & Services unit designed a pollinator-focused landscape adjacent to the southern edge of the array so that the site will qualify for the Pollinator Friendly Solar Site designation in Illinois.
PEI will purchase all the solar energy produced at a fixed rate on behalf of the university, including the associated renewable energy credits.
The renewable energy credits will be retired on behalf of the university, in support of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) goals for using clean energy. The 2015 iCAP includes a goal to produce at least 25,000 MWh/year of solar energy on the Urbana campus and a goal to use at least 140,000 MWh/year of low-carbon energy by 2025.
“We are very excited that this project is moving us quickly towards our iCAP goals for on-campus solar energy generation in such a cost-effective and collaborative manner,” said Chancellor Robert Jones.
— Solar Builder magazine