All you need to know about the 200 MW Prairie Wolf Solar Project, Illinois, USA

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The project timeline and all you need to know about the Prairie Wolf Solar Project in Illinois, USA

August 2021

National Grid Renewables has announced that construction has commenced on the 200 MW Prairie Wolf Solar Project in Coles County, Illinois. The Praire Wolf solar project is poised to generate millions in tax revenue, landowner income, and charitable initiatives, all while adding more clean energy to the electric grid. Using the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator, the project is estimated to offset carbon dioxide emissions by 285,000 metric tons annually. Prairie Wolf will also benefit local and statewide economies through the production of new tax revenue, the creation of new jobs, increased local spending during construction, and a local charitable fund estimated to contribute US$800,000 over the first 20 years of project operation.

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David Reamer, Head of Development, U.S. Onshore Renewables for National Grid Renewables said “Prairie Wolf is on the leading edge of the large-scale solar energy industry in the Midwest. We are thankful to the community members in Coles County for welcoming us and look forward to bringing economic development to the local area. Further, we are pleased to partner with leading companies like Cargill and Swinerton Renewable Energy to prove that Midwest solar is economic, valuable, and the right choice for customers and businesses.”

Prairie Wolf has an executed Virtual Power Purchase Agreement (VPPA) with Cargill, marking the second renewable energy VPPA contracted between Cargill and National Grid Renewables.”The groundbreaking of the Prairie Wolf Solar Project is an exciting step forward in Cargill’s work to support renewable energy as a way to change the way we power our operations, harnessing the innovative, economic, and environmental benefits of renewable power,” stated Eric Hoegger, Director, Global Renewable Energy for Cargill. “We are honored to continue partnering with National Grid Renewables as we work to fulfill our commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 10% by 2025, measured against a 2017 baseline.”

Early December 2021

US$98 million in tax equity funding has been closed by National Grid Renewables from Bank of America to support its Prairie Wolf Solar Project, a 200 MW project that began construction earlier this year in Coles County, Illinois. According to the corporation, Bank of America is the project’s sole tax equity investor, and the US$98 million investment completely meets the project’s tax equity funding need. Prairie Wolf construction began in February 2021, and the project is projected to be operational by the end of this year. Swinerton Renewable Electricity is building the project, while agricultural behemoth Cargill has agreed to buy the plant’s energy under a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement announced in 2020.

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More details on the Prairie Wolf solar project

The Prairie Wolf solar photovoltaic (PV) farm is being constructed in Coles County, which is part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market. Once operational, it is intended to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 285,000 tonnes per year. The facility will operate under a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) negotiated last year with agricultural behemoth Cargill for the whole production.

In terms of installations in Illinois, the Prairie project is somewhat distinctive. For starters, if operational, the project’s 200 MW capacity will represent a nearly 33 percent increase in the state’s total installed capacity. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Illinois has installed around 685 MW to date. The project is likewise of exceptional magnitude for the state, being not only the largest but also one of just a few utility-scale projects in the state. According to SEIA, the great majority of the 685 MW built thus far has been dispersed household and business installations, with community solar gaining some popularity recently.

Late December 2021

Prairie Wolf Solar in Coles County, Illinois, has begun operations after completing construction a few weeks ago. Prairie Wolf has a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Cargill, a privately held multinational food giant, as reported in 2020. The project, which was built by SOLV Energy, formerly known as Swinerton Renewable Energy, began construction in February 2021 and uses First Solar’s next-generation Series 6 thin film solar modules. In addition to creating new onsite operations and maintenance employment, Prairie Wolf’s operation will boost local and statewide economies by generating millions of dollars in additional tax revenue and landowner income. Prairie Wolf employed roughly 300 worksite employees during the climax of development.

Commentary on the Prairie Wolf Solar

“With the start of operations at the Prairie Wolf Solar plant, National Grid Renewables keeps its promise to repower America with clean, economically beneficial renewable energy. “Thank you to our project partners and customers, as well as community members, who backed Prairie Wolf and provided great value to the local economy and farming community,” says David Reamer, National Grid Renewables’ head of development for U.S. onshore renewables. Prairie Wolf is expected to offset carbon dioxide emissions by 285,000 metric tons per year during operations, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator.

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“Cargill is dedicated to addressing the crucial problem of climate change and its consequences for our global food chain.” One way we are doing this is by investing in renewable energy sources such as the Prairie Wolf Solar Project. “We’re honored to be a part of the contribution to the positive impact the Prairie Wolf Solar Project will have on the Coles County community and surrounding counties where Cargill operates multiple plant locations,” says Cargill’s director of global renewable energy, Eric Hoegger.

1 thought on “All you need to know about the 200 MW Prairie Wolf Solar Project, Illinois, USA”

  1. I am a board member for the Kansas (IL) Memorial Library. We serve patrons from Edgar county where we are located and also Coles County, Ashmore and Oakland. We currently have a fund raiser for a restoration project which will help save our 100 year old building. Does your company ever donate to local projects such as this. And if so, to whom would I send a letter for donation. Thank you

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