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Solar Power Coming to Chicago's South Side

SunPower (SPWRA) and Exelon (EXC) are planning the nation's largest urban solar power plant at a former industrial site on Chicago's South Side.

The 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) facility is scheduled for completion by the end of this year, the companies announced in a joint statement Wednesday.

The $60 million project is contingent upon Exelon receiving a federal loan guarantee under the recently passed federal stimulus legislation, which includes provisions for investment in green jobs and emissions reduction. Exelon is seeking a loan guarantee for up to 80% of the project cost from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Chicago Site of SunPower and Exelon's Planned Solar Power Facility
Exelon

Shares of SunPower were at $26.41 in late-morning trading, up 4.4%.

Exelon, a Chicago-based electric utilities company, plans to lease 39 acres of the West Pullman Industrial Redevelopment Area from the city for the project. The former industrial site is a "brownfield" property. Exelon Generation will own and operate the plant and market the electricity and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) it generates. SunPower will design, manufacture and install the solar system.

"Today, SunPower's solar PV technology can be implemented anywhere and at any scale -- from rooftops, to parking lots, to utility-scale power plants, and urban industrial sites," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner.

The 32,800 solar panels will provide enough electricity to meet the annual requirements of 1,200 to 1,500 homes per year, the companies say. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the installation will displace approximately 31.2 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, the equivalent of taking more than 2,500 cars off the road or planting more than 3,200 acres of forest.

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