From pollution cleanup site to clean-energy generator

DEPUE — It was once plagued with contamination, but the site of a former gypsum/fertilizer stack in DePue is getting new life as a solar farm.

A Massachusetts company, Ameresco, will develop the project in the next year in the reclaimed land just north of Route 29. Ameresco says the DePue Solar project will feature a 27-megawatt solar farm, comprised of more than 71,000 panels. In year one, the project will generate nearly 37,000 megawatts hours of green, emission-free energy.

All power generated by the farm will be connected to the power grid. Once operational it will be sold to Ameren or another entity in the energy market. This project will be the largest solar farm built to date by Ameresco.

“We’re very happy to have this project coming to DePue,” Village President Eric Bryant said.

“The development of clean, renewable energy on a brownfield site is not only beneficial to the Village of DePue but also the state of Illinois and our renewable energy goals,” Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. Kim stated in a news release about the project.

“This project exemplifies the prospects of economic development on brownfield properties and the solar farm will provide a positive economic benefit to the village, community and county for years to come.”

Ameresco says that in order to protect the existing remediation on brownfield sites, solar arrays do not penetrate the ground. Instead, racking systems are carefully installed on ballast blocks entirely above ground.

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