Chicago’s municipal buildings will soon be powered by nearly 600-MW solar project

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) visited the Chicago Urban League to announce an agreement with Constellation, in partnership with Swift Current Energy, to help meet its commitment. the mayor to procure renewable energy for all cities. facilities and operations by 2025, making Chicago one of the largest cities in the country to do so. The agreement also includes significant workforce development and share capital commitments.

“I am incredibly proud to further this commitment to transition all city operations to 100% renewable energy by 2025,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Signing this agreement demonstrates that the City of Chicago is leading by example and driving high-impact climate action, building the clean energy workforce of the future and distributing meaningful benefits fairly to advance the local economy of clean energy for all. “

The main terms of the contract include:

  • The city has signed an energy supply agreement with an initial five-year term with Constellation, the country’s leading clean energy company, starting in January 2023.
  • As part of the agreement with Constellation, which begins in 2025, the city will partially supply its major energy uses, such as the airports, the Harold Washington Library Center and the Jardine Water Purification Plant, with renewable energy from a new solar power plant that currently being developed by Swift Current. Energy in Sangamon and Morgan counties.
  • Construction on the solar project is expected to begin before the end of 2022 and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Illinois.
  • The city will also purchase renewable energy credits from other sources for the remaining energy consumption, such as small and medium-sized buildings and street lighting.
  • Swift Current Energy will own and operate Double Black Diamond Solar, which at 593 MW is expected to be one of the largest solar projects in Illinois to date.

The project will also be a source of renewable energy for other major organizations in Illinois.

“We provide a clean energy solution that will help the city of Chicago significantly reduce its carbon footprint and make a tangible, positive impact in the fight against climate change,” said Jim McHugh, Chief Commercial Officer at Constellation. “As we work with our customers to implement sustainability initiatives, it is especially important that we help communities with little or no resources participate in the transition to a carbon-free future. We look forward to working with Swift Current Energy to bring this project to life for the city of Chicago.”

This agreement, the culmination of a competitive procurement process that began with a September 2020 request for proposals by AIS, is an important step in reducing Chicago’s carbon footprint and accelerating the transition to clean, renewable energy as outlined in the Chicago Climate Action Plan 2022 (CAP). The 2022 CAP describes an interim reduction of 62% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 through direct investment and action by the City of Chicago. The city’s participation in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge helped the city, through technical advisors, design this process.

“As the owner or operator of more than 425 facilities across the city, including City Hall and one of the world’s busiest airports, it is imperative that we as city leaders take all necessary steps to decarbonise our assets and mitigate the disastrous effects of mitigate climate change,” said Sandra Blakemore, Acting Commissioner for AIS. “AIS is pleased to have partnered with Constellation and Swift Current Energy to achieve a landmark milestone for the City of Chicago, while also focusing on our multi-faceted approach to a clean energy transition, including the electrification of our fleet and the renovation of our building portfolio. ”

The city’s innovative procurement process scored respondents based on key elements such as the community benefits of the proposal and each respondent’s ability to facilitate the construction of new renewable energy in Illinois. As a result, Constellation, in partnership with Swift Current Energy, has made financial commitments under the agreement to help fund vocational training, apprenticeships, educational and/or other programs in Chicago aimed at developing a diverse , clean energy and a sustainable workforce. This approach will enable innovative local and equitable co-benefits to fund community projects in climate infrastructure and workforce development training.

In addition, all parties will actively work towards compliance of the Double Black Diamond Solar project with the various personnel and labor requirements of the state Clean Economy Jobs Act (CEJA), including a project employment contract, payment of prevailing wages and ensuring a at least 10% of the project staff consists of persons who are eligible for shares.

“The Chicago Urban League commends the city for achieving its ambitious goal and is making workforce development a priority through a new community benefits agreement,” said Karen Freeman Wilson, president and CEO of Chicago Urban League. “One of the ways the League works to promote economic justice is by preparing people from disadvantaged communities for high-demand jobs that will enable them to participate in the economy of the future. In recent years, more than 200 individuals have completed our solar panel installation training program, and some of our graduates were incredibly proud to be part of the team that completed one of the largest solar projects in Chicago earlier this year – the installation of a sunroof and carport at our head office. Being part of the renewable energy workforce will change lives.”

The City of Chicago plans to apply for the Illinois Power Agency’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) “Self-Direct” credit program made available through CEJA. The Self-Direct program provides eligible large energy consumers such as the city with a credit on the electricity bill for REC purchases of qualified wind and solar energy sources. The program promotes large-scale REC purchases to help Illinois meet its statewide RPS goals. The city is committed to reinvesting its Self-Direct program credit funds to continue the decarbonization of its own municipal buildings and fleet. The city has already begun transitioning its fleet to all-electric vehicles with a commitment to a full transition by 2035. In addition, the city has allocated dollars in the Chicago Recovery Plan to accelerate energy retrofits and renewable energy generation, starting with libraries in historically disadvantaged communities on the south and west sides.

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