Illinois hospital network signs up for community solar


In addition to creating savings for residents across utility markets, community solar can create savings for healthcare providers seeking clean energy access. Hospital owner Southern Illinois Healthcare is expected to save $119,000 per year on electricity following a long-term community solar agreement.

The multi-hospital system in Carbondale, Illinois, signed up to purchase electricity production from three Nexamp projects in the state. In addition to the annual energy savings, the healthcare organization is directly supporting the growth of clean energy on the grid.

The hospital operator is subscribing to the Pope Creek Solar facility in Aledo, Ill., Mound City Solar in Mound City, Ill., and Percy Renewables 1 in Percy, Ill. Consulting group E4 LLC advised the hospital organization on the community solar procurement.

Nexamp spokesman Keith Hevenor told pv magazine USA the three projects are in the development stage right now and are expected to become operational in the second half of 2024, with each project planned to provide about 6.5 MW(DC) of power capacity.

“As a not-for-profit organization, our priority is ensuring each dollar goes as far as possible in achieving our mission to improve the health and well-being of all the people in communities we serve,” said Dan Boeckman, corporate director of facilities at SIH. “Participating in a community solar program enables us to be good stewards of our financial resources while also contributing to the growth of much needed clean energy across Illinois.”

Nexamp’s solar facilities will generate bill credits for every kilowatt-hour of energy produced. These credits will be applied to SIH electricity accounts in the Ameren Illinois service territory, offsetting its costs dollar for dollar. Each credit will be sold at a guaranteed fixed discount for the life of the agreement, providing predictable savings year over year.

“We see how important it is today for healthcare institutions to manage costs, but at the same time we are hearing how important sustainability is in their long-term strategies, said Joe Fiori, director of energy sales, Nexamp.

In June 2022, Nexamp completed the 2.8 MW French Road Solar project in Burlington, Illinois. The project is located 55 miles west of Chicago, and has over 7,000 solar panels. Capable of offsetting the energy needs of approximately 400 average homes, it will also offset nearly 6 million pounds of CO2 annually.

Illinois currently ranks 15th in the U.S. for solar energy, with 1.91 GW of installed capacity through late 2022, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The Illinois Shines program was introduced in 2019, creating richly valued solar renewable energy credits that pay residential and commercial solar asset owners based on their system’s production.

The state has also introduced a community solar offering under Illinois Shines and has a healthy mix of residential, commercial, and community solar installations. SEIA projects Illinois will add just under 5 GW of solar over the next five years, placing it within the top 10 states for solar development.

Nexamp was founded in 2007 and has focused on community solar since before most people knew what it was. Nationwide, the company has community solar projects in seven states and is actively developing in more states that have enabling legislation. In addition to community solar, Nexamp has existing commercial and industrial projects in other states including Calif., Georgia and Rhode Island.

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