Solar panels to power 145 homes coming to Naperville

Marie Wilson | Daily Herald

Naperville has been chosen as one of four municipalities across the state to receive a solar-power project through a nonprofit energy organization that powers 32 Illinois communities.

Construction is set to begin this summer on a 1-megawatt solar array of 3,500 panels on six acres at the city’s Springbrook Water Reclamation Center, 3712 Plainfield-Naperville Road. The panels are expected to produce 1.6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year — enough to power 145 homes.

“It’s awesome for our community,” Mayor Steve Chirico said. “It’s good for our environment and a great investment. It makes financial sense for us. It also improves our reliability, our electrical sustainability.”

The Illinois Municipal Electric Agency, a nonprofit co-op from which the city has received all its energy since entering into a contract June 1, 2011, is taking the lead on the project after choosing Naperville from among its member municipalities, said Staci Wilson, director of government affairs.

“Naperville has a commitment to sustainability and presented a well-vetted proposal that demonstrated the commitment as well as the support of Mayor Chirico and the city council,” Wilson said.

Solar projects also are set to be built in Altamont and Rock Falls, as well as one more community, Wilson said.

Each array will be built at no direct cost to the city. The municipal electric agency is seeking pitches from developers who will build the panels in exchange for a contract to sell back the power produced, Wilson said.

Electricity generated will return to the grid to be used in Naperville, providing “year-round environmental benefits,” Wilson said.

“Power generated by the solar panels peaks at about the same time as Naperville’s summer load,” Wilson said. “This offsets higher-cost peak generation.”

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