WVPA, Ranger Power to triple Illinois solar capacity by 2021

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Wabash Valley Power’s member co-ops will benefit from recently completed long-term agreements to purchase the energy and capacity generated by what will be the largest solar arrays ever built in Illinois.

Wabash Valley Power will be the sole buyer of the energy produced from two 99-megawatt (MW) arrays to be built by New York-based Ranger Power, a utility-scale solar development company. Wabash Valley Power will purchase the power produced by the arrays, while the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the projects will be sold through the Illinois Power Agency REC procurement process.

The 198 MW solar projects will more than triple the statewide solar capacity in Illinois. The Solar Energy Industries Association reported in January 2018 that installed solar projects statewide collectively total 81.5 MW.

“Declining prices of utility-scale solar, coupled with the state government’s commitment to creating in-state energy jobs, enabled us to provide the most cost-competitive solar power purchase agreements in Illinois history,” said Adam Cohen, CEO of Ranger Power. “These new projects will help reduce peak demand, while the additional economic and environmental benefits will impact many more Illinois residents and businesses. We are eager for the future and our partnership with Wabash Valley Power.”

The first array, the Prairie State Solar Project, will be built on privately owned land in Perry County, Illinois. Groundbreaking is scheduled for late 2019 with commercial operations by 2021. The second project was announced in April, with details to be finalized. Collectively, the arrays will produce enough electricity to power nearly 30,000 homes.

Ranger Power has been engaged with state and county officials throughout the development of the projects. “We’re excited to be one step closer to moving forward with this meaningful investment in our county which will support new jobs and new revenues for our community to invest in schools, roads, and bridges,” Illinois State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) said of the Prairie State Solar Project.

Wabash Valley Power, located in Indianapolis, supplies electricity to 23 not-for-profit electric distribution cooperatives located throughout Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. Collectively, these cooperatives serve more than 311,000 homes, farms, schools and businesses. Wabash Valley electric distribution cooperative members include three Illinois cooperatives: Corn Belt Energy, MJM Electric Cooperative and EnerStar Electric Cooperative.

The new arrays represent more than $100 million in new investments in Illinois that also will contribute millions in tax revenue without requiring additional public infrastructure or services. They also reflect the objectives of the Future Energy Jobs Act, an Illinois law that went into effect last year requiring at least 4,300 MW of new solar and wind energy to be built in the state by 2030.

The arrays also support the law’s job creation initiative; the Prairie State Solar Project will create an estimated 200 jobs during the construction phase and 3 to 5 full-time positions once the site is operational.

“As a cooperative, we strive to enter into agreements that have a positive impact for everyone involved, particularly in the communities that we serve,” said Jay Bartlett, CEO of Wabash Valley Power. “Our agreement with Ranger Power is in keeping with our commitment to provide sustainable energy resources for our members.”