President Preckwinkle and Cook County Bureau of Asset Management Announce Off-Site Power Purchase Agreement RFP

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(Cook County, IL) – Today, Cook County announced the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a renewable energy Off-Site Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The PPA will allow Cook County to purchase a large portion of its electricity supply from a renewable source beginning in FY2023. This is a significant step forward in reaching the County’s goal of 100% renewable electricity for County-owned facilities by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

This effort is part of Cook County’s Clean Energy Plan (cookcountyil.gov/service/clean-energy-plan), which prioritizes actions that meet the urgency of climate change, promotes local jobs, increases the resiliency of the local power grid, and provides the County with reliable and cost-conscious electricity. This PPA is one such action and will help bolster the local green economy, improve air quality and add renewable energy to the electric grid.

The maximum size of the PPA would save nearly 94,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, which is equivalent to the emissions produced from powering 16,000 homes. Health benefits from lower pollution with the switch to renewable resources through this PPA would save approximately $3.5-$7.1 million in avoided community health costs.

“Climate change is an urgent threat to us all,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “But under-resourced communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change such as flooding and extreme heat due to social, economic and health vulnerabilities. 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.”

Cook County has already made progress toward its carbon neutrality goals by reducing its government building greenhouse gas emissions by about 35% since 2010. This includes a solar panel array on the Domestic Violence Courthouse roof and 12 solar trees in the Bridgeview Courthouse parking lot totaling about 300 kw. The Clean Energy Plan has mapped out upcoming installations for on-site solar, but even with these plans the County requires off-site renewable transactions to reach the scale needed for meeting the 100% renewable electricity goal by 2030.

This transaction will be made using an off-site Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a common financial tool for large-scale renewable energy purchases. In a PPA, a renewable energy developer constructs a renewable energy plant (such as a solar or wind farm) and subscribers, such as the County, purchase the electricity and renewable energy certificates from the developer without paying any up-front capital costs. The City Renewables Accelerator resources and workshops were valuable in structuring this RFP to meet the County’s goals.

The County will issue the RFP on November 29, 2021 and expects to select a vendor in February 2022. Responses to the RFP are due by January 10th, 2022. More information and details of the RFP can be found here: cookcountyil.gov/cookcountyrenewableRFP 

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