Facilities selected for Illinois’ Coal-to-Solar program

Published on June 07, 2022 by Dave Kovaleski

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Five coal plants in Illinois have been selected to participate in the state’s Coal-to-Solar program, which offers incentives for companies to install energy storage facilities at the sites of former coal plants.

The five coal plant sites — which are already closed or in the process of closing – include NRG Midwest Storage – Waukegan Energy Storage Center; NRG Midwest Storage — Will County Energy Storage Center; Dynegy Midwest Generation — Havana Battery Energy Storage System; Electric Energy — Joppa Battery Energy Storage System; and Illinois Power Resources Generating – Edwards Battery Energy Storage System.

“When it comes to Illinois’ clean energy future, this initiative will help deliver on the progress our residents deserve,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said. “Illinois is taking strides that no other state in the Midwest – and few in the country – are taking when it comes to combatting climate change. The Coal-to-Solar Energy Storage Grant Program is a critical component of ensuring Illinois families see stable and reliable energy service every step of the way.”

The Coal-to-Solar Energy Storage Grant Program is on the path to having 100 percent clean energy by 2050, which is mandated under the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA). Energy storage, which allows previously produced electricity to be released as needed, is essential as more renewable energy sources are added to the grid. These five facilities can provide a combined 255 megawatts of power at peak capacity.

“The State of Illinois is executing a bold climate agenda under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, which intentionally invests in communities and puts us on course to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources by 2050,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Director Sylvia Garcia said. “Energy storage is absolutely crucial to ensuring a smooth transition as more clean energy sources come online, and we look forward to implementing the Coal-to-Solar Energy Storage program, which shores up our electrical grid, helps the environment, and strengthens the economy.”

The five coal plant sites will receive $280.5 million over ten years, with the first payments issued in 2025, when the facilities are expected to be commercially operational. The amount of funding received by each project corresponds to the megawatts (MW) of stored energy capacity at the facilities. The plants were selected through a competitive review process. To qualify, the plants must have burned coal, have a generating capacity of at least 150 MW of electricity, and commit to hiring a diverse workforce and apprentices.

DCEO is overseeing the energy storage component of the program, while the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) will oversee a program to incentivize the production of solar energy and co-located energy storage.