Ground breaking held for new cooperative solar facility

IMG_6806On May 10, Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative held a ground breaking for its 500-­kilowatt solar facility that is being built south of Winchester on Illinois Highway 106, next to one of the substations that serves the co-op’s 7,800 members.

The complete solar array will cover four acres. At full capacity, it could ­provide enough electricity for about 170 homes on the hottest day of the year.

“We very much appreciate the support of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and its grant through the Renewable Energy Business Development Program,” said Robert A. Brown, President of the co-op’s board of directors. The DCEO grant will cover $500,000 of the total $1,800,000 cost. “We couldn’t have undertaken this project without DCEO’s help,” said Brown.

With this solar project, the co-op’s wind turbine and its share of Prairie Power’s wind resources, Illinois Rural Electric will have renewable resources equal to more than 14 percent of the co-op’s peak demand. “Our renewable portfolio gives us the diversity which we believe to be critical for the long-term,” said Brown.