Illinois American Water energizes first solar project

Illinois American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in Illinois, and Sol Systems, cut the ribbon on the water utility’s first solar project located in Champaign County, Ill. The 2.3-megawatt (MW) project includes bifacial panels, single-axis trackers, and the installation of native grasses to promote local habitat growth.

“This is a really exciting project because of its multi-faceted impact to the communities we serve in Champaign County,” said Brent O’Neill, director of engineering for Illinois American Water. “Not only did the project support local jobs, but the resulting solar energy helps to reduce operational costs which benefits our customers and reduces our environmental footprint.”

Illinois American Water will purchase the electricity under a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sol Customer Solutions, benefitting from lower cost solar energy without the upfront cost of installing the project. Sol Customer Solutions is a joint venture between Sol Systems and Arevon Energy, Inc. Arevon will manage the asset and Sol Systems will operate and maintain the project.

Sol Systems partnered with construction firm Inovateus Solar to build the project. The project’s state-of-the-art features include bifacial panels, which take in additional reflected energy on both sides of each panel, and single-axis trackers that rotate the panels to face the sun throughout the day. During construction, the surrounding land was planted with native grass mixtures, including Little Bluestem, Side Oats Grama and Blue Grama, which will aid the local ecosystem by expanding the footprint of these local florae.

“Inovateus Solar is excited to be supporting Sol Systems with Illinois American Water’s first Champaign County solar power project,” said Megan Drean, Inovateus project manager. “With every solar project we build with our partners, Inovateus strives to be stewards of the land and the surrounding community by including sustainable features like bifacial solar modules, trackers, zero-waste initiative construction, planting native ground cover and end of life planning. This solar project is another example of how Illinois utilities are transforming the grid toward clean energy.”

Illinois American Water

Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing water and/or wastewater services to approximately 1.3 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. 

Sol Systems

Sol Systems is a national solar energy firm focusing on development, infrastructure and environmental commodity businesses. To date, Sol has developed and/or financed more than 1 GW of solar projects valued at more than $1 billion for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, counties, utilities, universities and schools and provides services to nearly 17,000 customers across the U.S. The company was founded in 2008, is based in Washington, D.C., and is led by its founder. For more information, visit https://www.solsystems.com

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