Chicago contracts for 100pc renewables

  • Spanish Market: Electricity, Emissions
  • 09/08/22

The City of Chicago will power all municipal facilities and operations with renewable energy beginning in 2025 through a contract with electricity supplier Constellation.

The Constellation supply agreement will begin in 2023 and run for an initial five-year term, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said this week.

Starting in 2025, the agreement will include a roughly 300MW share of the 593MW Double Black Diamond Solar project being developed by Swift Current Energy in Sangamon and Morgan counties in western-central Illinois. Once on line, output from the solar farm will partially meet the needs of some of the city's large energy users, including its airports and water purification plant.

Swift Current Energy plans to begin construction on the solar farm, which would be one of the largest in the state, before the end of the year. The developer will remain the long-term owner and operator of the system after completion.

Chicago will also obtain renewable energy certificates (RECs) from "other sources" for the remainder of its power consumption.

Overall, the arrangement will cover 900,000MWh/yr, the entirety of the city's electricity needs for government buildings, facilities and operations. The city will retire all RECs procured from the agreement.

The mayor's office expects the overall deal to lower Chicago's greenhouse gas emissions by over 290,000 metric tonnes/yr, the equivalent of pulling 62,000 light vehicles from the roads.

The city also intends to apply to the Illinois Power Agency's "self-direct" program, through which large electricity customers receive a bill credit for purchasing RECs from qualified wind and solar projects. The initiative supports the state's renewable portfolio standard objectives through large-scale REC procurements. Chicago plans to put those bill credit funds toward decarbonizing its municipal buildings and vehicle fleet.

Chicago has plans to transition entirely to electric vehicles for city departments and ensure all electricity consumption in the city comes from renewables, both by 2035.

As part of the agreement, Constellation and Swift Current Energy have committed financial resources to assist job training in the city, a bid to build out the clean-energy workforce. The Double Black Diamond Solar project will strive to meet labor requirements included in last year's Clean Economy Jobs Act, which raised Illinois' renewable portfolio standard to 50pc by 2040 and required the state to use 100pc zero-carbon electricity by 2050, while phasing out coal- and natural gas-fired generation.

Constellation did not immediately respond to a request for additional details.

The contract covers only the electricity of the City of Chicago, and not the electricity use of sister agencies such as the Chicago Transit Authority.


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