Wabash Valley Power Association completes 99MW solar agreement

5k Solar Array Source Oak Ridge

Wabash Valley Power Association (WVPA) will be the sole buyer of the energy produced from the Prairie State Solar Project, a 99-megawatt (MW) array to be built on privately owned land in Perry County, Illinois. WVPA member co-ops will benefit from a recently completed long-term agreement to purchase the energy and capacity generated by what will be the largest solar array ever built in the state of Illinois.

New York-based Ranger Power, a utility-scale solar development company, will build the array, which will produce enough electricity to power nearly 15,000 homes. Groundbreaking is scheduled to occur in late 2019 with commercial operations beginning in 2021.

The Prairie State Solar Project will more than double the statewide solar capacity in Illinois. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that installed solar projects statewide collectively total 81.5 MW.

“As a cooperative, we strive to enter into agreements that have a positive impact for everyone involved, particularly in the communities that we serve,” said Jay Bartlett, CEO of Wabash Valley Power. “Our agreement with Ranger Power is a landmark, large-scale solar project demonstrating the future of renewable energy growth.”

Wabash Valley Power, located in Indianapolis, ­supplies electricity to 23 not-for-profit electric distribution ­cooperatives located throughout Illinois, Missouri and Indiana. Collectively, these cooperatives serve more than 311,000 homes, farms, schools and businesses. Wabash Valley electric distribution cooperative members include three Illinois cooperatives: Corn Belt Energy, MJM Electric Cooperative and EnerStar Electric Cooperative.

Ranger Power has been engaged with state and county officials throughout the development of the project. “We’re excited to be one step closer to moving forward with this meaningful investment in our county which will support new jobs and new revenues for our community to invest in schools, roads, and bridges,” said State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro).

The new array will represent a nearly $100 million new investment in southwestern Illinois that also will contribute millions in tax revenue without requiring additional public infrastructure or services. The Prairie State Solar Project supports the objectives of the Future Energy Jobs Act, an Illinois law that went into effect last year requiring at least 4,300 MW of new solar and wind energy to be built in the state by 2030. The new solar project also supports the law’s job creation initiative by creating an estimated 200 jobs during the construction phase and 3 to 5 full-time ­positions once the site is operational.