The city of Chicago announced today a commitment to transition to 100% renewable energy for all city facilities and operations – ranging from buildings, airports, and streetlights – by 2025.
In a major step towards meeting the new pledge, Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled a new energy supply agreement with clean energy company Constellation, to supply renewable energy from the Double Black Diamond solar project, a new solar generation installation currently being developed by Swift Current Energy in downstate Illinois.
At 593 megawatts, Double Black Diamond is expected to be one of the largest solar projects in the state to date. Construction of the solar project is expected to start before the end of this year. The solar project will also be a source of renewable energy to other major organizations in Illinois
Matt Birchby, Co-Founder and President, Swift Current Energy, said:
“We commend the City of Chicago for their leadership in securing 100% clean, renewable energy for all City buildings and operations and Sangamon and Morgan Counties for hosting this project. As the longterm owner and operator of Double Black Diamond Solar, Swift Current Energy will continue to strengthen our relationships with the project customers, Constellation and the host communities to ensure the benefits of the project are robust and longlasting.”
Constellation and Swift Current Energy have also made financial commitments under the agreement to help fund job training, educational and/or other programs in Chicago, focused on the development of a diverse, and sustainability-focused workforce.
Jim McHugh, Chief Commercial Officer, Constellation, said:
“We are providing a clean energy solution that will help the City of Chicago significantly reduce its carbon footprint and make a tangible, positive impact in the fight against climate change. As we work with our customers to implement sustainability initiatives, it is especially important that we help underserved and under-resourced communities participate in the transition to a carbon free future.”
As part of the deal with Constellation, in 2025 the city will start to partly source its major energy uses, such as airports, Harold Washington Library Center, and Jardine Water Purification Plant with renewable energy Double Black Diamond.
For remaining power uses, such as small and medium-sized buildings and streetlights, the city said that it will procure renewable energy credits (RECs) from other sources.
The city also announced plans to apply for the Illinois Power Agency’s Renewable Portfolio Standard “Self-Direct” credit program, made available through the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). The program provides eligible large energy consumers with an electricity bill credit for renewable energy certificates purchases from wind and solar resources. The city stated that it is committed to reinvesting its Self-Direct program bill credit funds to continue the decarbonization of its municipal buildings and fleet.
The agreement also marks a step in reducing the city’s carbon footprint and accelerating the transition to clean, renewable energy outlined in its 2022 Climate Action Plan, which details an interim target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 62% by 2040.
According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, by purchasing solar energy for city operations, Chicago is expected to reduce its carbon footprint by over 290,000 metric tons per year.
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, said:
“I am incredibly proud to advance this commitment to transitioning all city operations to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. The signing of this agreement demonstrates that the City of Chicago is leading by example and driving high-impact climate action, building the clean energy workforce of the future, and equitably distributing meaningful benefits to foster the local clean energy economy for all.”