Chicago - Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley joined Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe and other local dignitaries on Chicago's South Side today to dedicate Exelon City Solar, the nation's largest urban solar power plant. Exelon transformed a 41-acre site in the West Pullman neighborhood from a former industrial brownfield property that had been vacant for more than 30 years into a source of clean, renewable energy - and pride for the community.
"I want to thank Exelon and SunPower for their vision and their commitment to Chicago. This project is a great example of the good things that happen when government and the private sector work together," Daley said.
The $60 million project's 32,292 solar photovoltaic panels convert the sun's rays into more than 14,000 megawatt-hours of electricity per year - enough to meet the annual energy requirements of up to 1,500 average homes while generating zero carbon emissions. Exelon Generation owns and operates the 10-megawatt plant and will market the electricity it generates.
"This state-of-the-art demonstration facility will give Exelon valuable insights into the solar market, deliver a real environmental benefit for Chicago by adding clean energy to the grid, and enhance the neighboring community by beautifying a brownfield and improving safety for local residents," Rowe said.
Exelon City Solar supports Mayor Daley's Chicago Climate Action Plan and efforts to create a lasting environmental legacy for the city's residents. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's system for calculating emission savings, Exelon City Solar will displace approximately 31.2 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to taking more than 2,500 cars off the road.
Exelon City Solar advances the company's efforts to actively address climate change through Exelon 2020, an environmental and business strategy to reduce, offset or displace more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. This is an amount greater than the company's 2001 carbon footprint and equivalent to taking nearly 3 million cars off the road.
Construction on the site began in July 2009, with commercial operation commencing in December 2009 and final site work completed this month. SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, designed, manufactured and installed the system.
"SunPower solar plants are welcomed by our communities, including those on urban industrial sites like Exelon City Solar," said SunPower Executive Vice President Julie Blunden. "With our high-efficiency, high-capacity factor solar technology, Exelon City Solar maximizes energy delivered to the grid throughout the day by using SunPower trackers. Today, SunPower's solar photovoltaic technology can be implemented anywhere and at any scale - from rooftops to utility-scale power plants."
The project spurred local economic development as it created more than 200 construction jobs, with a least half of all work hours filled by Chicago residents. Additionally, approximately 44 percent of contractors working on the project were minority-owned businesses, and steel tubing and other construction materials were sourced from companies on Chicago's South Side.
The full list of speakers at today's press conference follows:
- Doyle Beneby, president, Exelon Power
- Alderman Carrie Austin, 34th Ward, City of Chicago
- Mayor Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago
- John Rowe, chairman and CEO, Exelon Corporation
- Julie Blunden, executive vice president for public policy and corporate communications, SunPower Corp.
- Larry Huggins, president and CEO, Riteway-Huggins Construction