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.
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.
"With nearly 2,000 megawatts of renewable power in our energy portfolio, including hydro-electricity, wind, landfill gas and solar, Exelon is investing aggressively but wisely in renewables as part of our comprehensive environmental strategy, Exelon 2020," said Exelon Chairman and CEO John W. Rowe. "As a provider of electrical service in urban areas, we understand the importance of finding urban locations for renewable energy and we are pleased to bring the largest urban solar installation to West Pullman, helping to revitalize an area where industry once thrived."
Elsewhere in the solar space, Energy Conversion Devices ( ENER) was up 4.1% to $15.25. Canadian Solar ( CSIQ) was up 3.9% to $5.93. First Solar ( FSLR) was up 2.6% to $143.72. JA Solar ( JASO) was up 7.9% to $3.28. LDK Solar ( LDK) was up 4.3% to $7.75. Solarfun ( SOLF) was up 3.4% to $4.23. Trina Solar ( TSL) was up 4.1% to $13.13. Green Plains Renewable Energy ( GPRE) was down 0.5% to $1.99.