As part of its Clean Energy Plan, Cook County government set an ambitious goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity for its 171 county buildings by 2030, but it can’t hit that target on its own.
Between the county’s existing and planned on-site solar installations, which include solar panels placed on buildings like the Domestic Violence Courthouse, that still doesn’t amount to enough juice, so officials are now in the market for a powerful partner.
On Monday, county officials announced they had issued a request for proposal for a renewable energy off-site power purchase agreement (PPA).
Under these arrangements, an energy buyer like Cook County signs a deal with a developer, agreeing to buy electricity at a specified price for a pre-determined time period. This agreement allows the developer to obtain the financing needed to build and operate a renewable energy plant, such as a wind or solar farm. Once the plant is up and running, the developer/energy generator delivers electricity into the grid, where the buyer claims it.
According to officials, the county expects to start drawing electricity from a renewable source by 2023, saving nearly 94,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the equivalent of emissions produced from powering 16,000 homes. The switch to renewable energy should also result in a reduction in pollution, saving millions in community health costs, officials said.
“This PPA represents a big step forward in our fight against climate change and is the right thing to do for the environment, for the people of Cook County and for racial equity,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Responses to the RFP are due by Jan. 10, 2022, and the county expects to select a vendor in February.
A previous version of this story had an incorrect due date for RFP responses.