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Chicago Inks $422 Million Deal To Start Shifting City Buildings, Operations To Clean Energy By 2025

The city will partially power the airports, Harold Washington Library, the Jardine Water Purification Plant and other buildings with solar energy from a new Downstate plant.

An array of solar panels.
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CHICAGO — The city of Chicago has finalized an agreement to buy and start using clean, renewable energy by 2025, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

The contract was awarded to Constellation New Energy Inc. in collaboration with Swift Current Energy. The contract, valued at up to $422 million, has an initial five-year term starting in January, according to the Mayor’s Office.

The deal means starting in 2025, the city will use renewable energy from a new solar power plant being built in Sangamon and Morgan counties to partially power its largest energy uses such as O’Hare and Midway airports, Harold Washington Library Center and Jardine Water Purification Plant, according to a news release.

Construction of that new solar facility is expected to to break ground in the fall and will create “hundreds of jobs” in Illinois, officials said Monday. The facility is also expected to be the largest solar projects in Illinois to date, officials said.

“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,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Because of the newly signed agreement, Chicago is expected to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 290,000 metric tons each year, equivalent to emissions from 62,000 vehicles, officials said. This will help the city on its mission to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 62 percent by 2040, as outlined in the 2022 Chicago Climate Action Plan, officials said.

“As the owner or operator of over 425 facilities city-wide, including City Hall and
one of the world’s busiest airports, it is imperative that we as city leaders take all
measures necessary to decarbonize our assets and to mitigate the disastrous effects
of climate change,” said Sandra Blakemore, acting commissioner for the city’s Department of Assets, Information & Services.

Additionally, the city plans to buy renewable energy credits from other sources for its remaining power uses, such as small and medium-sized buildings and streetlights, according to a news release.

Constellation and Swift Current Energy will also fund job training, apprenticeships, education and various other programs in Chicago that will focus on developing and nurturing a sustainability-focused workforce, officials said.

In addition to the contract, the city has already begun transitioning its fleet to all-electric vehicles and has plans to “accelerate energy retrofits” with libraries in underserved communities on the South and West sides.

The city’s goal is to run all of its operations on 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, the release said.

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