A solar field operated by the water reclamation district that serves a large portion of the lower Fox Valley area is now online after a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday, April 24. The field joins three other area solar fields in Kendall and Kane counties in what is now the Chicago area’s largest solar development.
Politicians, industry leaders and community activists gathered on an overcast Saturday morning to inaugurate the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District’s new 7,000-panel solar field along the west bank of the Fox River at 800 South River Street in Montgomery.
The field will generate 3.9 million kilowatts of energy each year, an equivalence of 450 single family homes that is expected to cut the district’s energy bill in half, according to agency officials.
“It took a village, board members, engineering firms and an entire water reclamation district to bring this property to its highest and best use for the rate payers of Fox Metro,” said Judith Sotir, president of the board of trustees for the water reclamation district. “The savings from this project will stand decades.”
With the field online, the Fox Valley area is now home to the biggest solar developments in the Chicago area, according to Progressive Business Solutions, a consultant that helped the wastewater district secure funding for the project. The new development, along with solar fields in Yorkville, Plano and Mooseheart, are expected to save $14.5 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.
“We’ve seen a lot of projects put in place because of solar incentives,” said Eric Peterman, CEO of GRNE Solar, an Illinois renewable energy firm who installed the Montgomery solar field. “It feels great. It’s been a long time coming.”
Funding for the development came from the Future Energy Jobs Act, a renewable energy incentive program passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2016. Through both state and outside funding, the solar field has been brought online at zero cost to local taxpayers.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said at the ribbon cutting ceremony that solar fields are just the first step in making local governments and communities more energy sustainable, adding that he’s helped pass legislation to fund energy storage projects
“The more renewables you put on the grid the more you’re dependent on storing the daytime energy before you use it at night,” Foster said in an interview. “You have to have a lot more long distance power transmission, so when it’s cloudy in Illinois and sunny in Iowa, you can bring the power over and vice versa.”
Fox Metro provides waste water treatment service to residents of Montgomery, Oswego, Sugar Grove, Aurora, North Aurora, the unincorporated Boulder Hill subdivision and portions of Yorkville and Batavia.
Source: The Daily Chronicle