Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Pritzker, Lightfoot tout city’s $422 million deal for green energy – Chicago Sun-Times


Chicago has signed a $422.2 million agreement with Constellation New Energy LLC to provide renewable power to government buildings, street lights and all other city assets — and a carbon-free footprint — by 2025.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose Climate and Equitable Jobs Act laid the groundwork for the agreement, called the power supply contract that will make clean energy the standard for buildings a “model” for the nation.

It calls for city-owned buildings that consume the most energy — the Jardine Water Purification Plan, Harold Washington Library and those at O’Hare and Midway airports — to start drawing a healthy chunk of their power from a new solar farm under construction in Sangamon and Morgan counties. It will be “the largest utility-scale solar generation facility in Illinois’ history,” Pritzker said.

With capacity to generate 593 megawatts, the Double Black Diamond solar farm will be owned and operated by Swift Current Energy as part of the Constellation agreement.

“This is an enormously positive development … for the residents of Chicago and for the state of Illinois. You’re really making clean energy the standard for buildings and for residents throughout our city,” Pritzker said at a news conference at the Chicago Urban League.

Work on the solar farm will start in a few months, creating nearly 1,000 jobs, Pritzker said.

“And by 2025, hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans will get their energy needs met by an entirely renewable energy source. It’s momentous. … Illinois is a leader in the clean energy revolution. In this state, we take seriously the looming threats of the climate crisis.”

The new five-year contract is “a historic moment in our city’s obligation to combat climate change with concrete, tangible steps toward a renewable future,” Lightfoot said.

“To get there requires all of us to set and implement bold, equitable climate goals — all necessary at all levels of government — but especially at the city level. … We also need to bring the benefits of a thriving green economy to all of our 77 communities.”

But, the mayor warned, “It can’t just be about the government. Although we have an important role to play, each of us needs to step up and do our part. We must work as hard as we possibly can to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change, which we see manifest almost every single day across the country and across our world.”

The Harold Washington Library is among the city-owned buildings that use the most energy.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

On Earth Day, Chicago released a 2022 Climate Action Plan with an ambitious goal of reducing emissions in the city 62% by 2040.

Lightfoot called the Constellation contract a “major step forward in making these goals a reality.”

It will allow the city “to purchase renewable energy for all city facilities and operations by 2025” as well as the 300 megawatts of solar power needed to serve “institutions like O’Hare, Midway and our water-pumping stations.”

For the rest of the city’s energy use — including street lights — officials said they plan to purchase “renewable energy credits from other sources.”

Over time, City Hall also plans to invest in what Lightfoot called “transformative, locally generated energy projects.”

“This includes opportunities, for example, like the Library Power Project, which will provide 10 primarily South and West side libraries with energy-saving upgrades and rooftop solar panels, starting as soon as this year,” the mayor said.



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