Illinois to build largest solar field in the midwest

Illinois has received funding to build the largest solar field in the Midwest. Wanxiang America Corporation will get more than $4 million in a federal stimulus grant to develop the field. Wanxiang will manage the project through Rockford Solar Partners a joint venture with Chicago-based renewable energy developer, New Generation Power.

The field will support 28 megawatts of power initially and will support 62 megawatts when everything is complete. The new facility, known as The Rockford Project, will save more than 40 million gallons of water annually and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at a rate of more than 10,000 tons annually, or about 28 tons each day. Solar panels will be sourced locally from the Wanxiang’s Rockford Plant.

Along with funding for this project, Governor Quinn also signed two bills into law that promote the use of solar power. House Bill 6202, will amend the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard to include a requirement for utilities to purchase 0.5 percent of its power from solar sources by June 1, 2012 and increase that amount each year. House Bill 5429, will allow individual homeowners to construct solar energy panels on their homes starting in 2011.

“Solar energy is the wave of the future, and it is important that our public utilities and homeowners are able to more easily increase their use of solar energy,” said Governor Quinn. “We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources, such as foreign oil.”