Illinois American Water is working with Sol Systems to develop two solar fields. The energy-saving photovoltaic fields will be located on Illinois American Water property in Champaign and Peoria. The PV fields, which convert light to usable energy, will be the largest of their kind within American Water’s footprint, nationwide.
According to Brent O’Neill, director of engineering for Illinois American Water, both systems will be rated at 2,000 kW and, combined, will help the company save over $200,000 in annual energy costs. In addition, an anticipated 20 jobs will be created during construction. Sol Systems will partner with local union contractors to complete the work.
O’Neill said, “This is a really exciting project because of its multi-faceted impact to the communities we serve. Not only are we supporting local jobs and reducing operational costs, which benefits our customers, but we are also reducing our environmental footprint.”
To further illustrate the environmental impact, O’Neill explained, “Using EPA’s Green Power Equivalency we’ve determined the solar fields will offset greenhouse gas emissions of 16,222 cars or 8,462,000 gallons of gasoline over 15 years of operation. That’s a significant impact.”
O’Neill added that solar energy is not new to Illinois American Water. Solar panels attached to an operations building in the Peoria District help to keep equipment batteries charged in inclement weather. Solar is also used at the company’s corporate office and Metro East operations in southern Illinois.
Sol Systems will access Ameren Illinois and Illinois Power Agency energy rebates to help reduce the overall cost of the project. Construction on the solar PV fields should be completed by April 2021.