Sol Systems, Illinois American Water debut Champaign County’s first solar project

AEW Champaign solar field

Illinois American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, joined Sol Systems this week in cutting the ribbon on Champaign County’s first solar project. The 2.3-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 benefit from lower cost solar energy without the upfront cost of installing the project by purchasing the electricity under a 15-PPA with Sol Customer Solutions. Sol Customer Solutions is a joint venture between Sol Systems and Arevon Energy which will manage the asset while Sol Systems will operate and maintain the project.

Sol Systems and Inovateus Solar partnered to build the project which includes state-of-the-art features such as 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.”

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