A northern Illinois company on Wednesday cut the ribbon on a new solar array that will supply 100% of its power needs for the next 25 years. The company's president said it will make back its investment within 5 years, with the next 20 in the plus column for its bottom line.
A lawmaker at the event applauded the state’s move to renewable energy, but said Illinois needs to take a thoughtful approach as it embraces the new technology. A solar industry representative said he just hoped the current boom in the industry continues.
State and industry officials joined employees of Minerallac, an electrical manufacturer and supplier, for the occasion. The Hampshire facility sits in State Senator Donald DeWitte’s 33rd District. He said it’s clear Illinois should continue to invest in expanding renewable energy generation.
“Now at the same time,” he said, “we have to be sensitive because coal and nuclear is about 40 to 50% of the base load of electricity in our state today. And those industries have a significant investment in their current facilities.”
The President of the Illinois Solar Energy Association was also at the ceremony. Brian Haug’s firm, Continental Electrical Construction Company, built Minerallac's 350 kW array. Haug said there’s a lot of such activity being generated by current legislation. But, he said, more funding by the state will be required to avoid a bust in the next couple of years.
“This fall [legislative] session will kind of tell the tale,” he said. “But the developers are moving forward and very aggressively pursuing projects, with the anticipation that things are going to get worked out.”
Haug said, regardless, other businesses, like Target and Walmart, are going solar at their facilities in a big way. He said the prospects for individual as well as community solar projects are looking bright as well.