Museum Installs Largest Solar System in Illinois

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago has installed one of the largest solar electric systems in the U.S. midwest.

CHICAGO, Illinois, US, 2001-06-22 [] The 49 kW of PV panels were installed by Spire Solar Chicago and are the largest PV system in the state. The panels will generate 60,000 kWh of electricity each year. Spire is undertaking a multi-year program of solar installations in conjunction with the City of Chicago, the Commonwealth Edison utility and the state Department of Commerce & Community Affairs. The museum project is part of Chicago’s increasingly high-profile commitment to clean energy, and is designed to allow the roof-top system to interconnect with ComEd’s grid to reduce the combustion of high-emission fuels during peak demand on summer days. “The museum has a commitment to environmental conservation in all respects and its ability to rely in part on a renewable source of energy is consistent with that mission,” adds the institution’s vice president Fay Hartog Levin. The museums project includes the Chicago Historical Society, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Museum of Science & Industry. “We are pleased to bring green power to Chicago and we expect the number of roof-top solar electric systems to continue to increase,” says Spire CEO and president Roger Little. “Spire plans to install as many as 15 more utility-connected solar installations this year in Chicago public schools, museums and commercial buildings.” “Our Chicago operation is the model of public-private partnership that we are using to demonstrate solar power’s cost effectiveness to other utilities and municipalities,” he explains. Spire has already installed solar systems on the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Frank W. Reilly Elementary School, Frazier Elementary School, ComEd North Side Commercial Center and a residential installation on the northwest side of Chicago. “What better way to demonstrate green technology to Chicagoans and visitors than by installing it on our world-class educational and cultural institutions,” says Chicago’s Environment Commissioner William Abolt. ComEd will provide interconnection under its Wind & PV Generation Pricing Experiment. The program reimburses customers who install wind turbines or solar systems for excess power that flows back to ComEd. “The State of Illinois is very pleased to be part of this unique partnership to demonstrate how to effectively utilize solar photovoltaic energy in Illinois,” explains DCCA Director Pam McDonough. “By supporting these clean renewable energy sources today, we can help ensure that they will play an integral role in meeting our energy needs for the future.” The Illinois Renewable Energy Resources Program provides up to 60 percent of funding for projects.
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