12-MW “bee friendly” solar farm coming soon to University of Illinois

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay
Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

This week, Sol Systems announced that it has executed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Prairieland Energy, Inc. (PEI), a University of Illinois-related organization. The 20-year PPA supports the development, construction, and operation of a 12.1 MW solar farm at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The project will be designed to provide a habitat for wildlife, according to developer Sol Customer Solutions (SCS), a joint venture between Capital Dynamics and Sol Systems. SCS will design, build, operate, finance, and maintain the solar farm for the life of the PPA.

SCS engineers will design the project to integrate nature in a way that creates a robust, multifunctional landscape that is supportive of the Bee Campus USA designation earned by the Urbana campus.

The project includes a pollinator habitat that will be planted in the areas under the panels to enhance ecosystems for local and migratory birds and insects, including bees and butterflies. The university’s Facilities & Services unit designed a pollinator-focused landscape adjacent to the southern edge of the array so that the site will qualify for the pollinator-friendly solar site designation in Illinois.

The system is projected to produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of solar power annually and it will triple renewable energy production on the Urbana campus. The project is expected to save the university approximately $300,000 in the first year and an estimated $5 million over the life of the project.

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