The Real Deal Chicago

Power play: Solar energy developers sought for properties on South, West sides

A new city program aims to turn brownfields into energy generators
October 09, 2018 02:00PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (Credit: iStock)

City officials are looking for developers to build solar panel farms on vacant land on the South and West sides in an effort to turn brownfields into energy generators.

The city is teaming up with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust on a program to put ground-mounted solar panels at seven sites covering 30 acres of empty land in Austin, Englewood, West Pullman, Riverdale and South Deering, according to WTTW.

The parcels are being targeted because their redevelopment potential is limited due to environmental contamination.

Developers will bid on the properties, and the winner will own, operate and maintain the systems at no cost to the city, officials said. Construction on the projects is expected to start next year.

A recent study of the most environmentally friendly cities to work in showed Chicago has the highest percentage of office buildings that are LEED or Energy Star certified, with 70 percent of office complexes owning that designation.

And while an Illinois law calls on the state to increase its solar energy capacity by nearly 400 percent by 2030, the state has a way to go to match the green efforts of places like California, which this year became the first in the nation to require solar roofs on most new homes.

[WTTW] — John O’Brien