Chicago Unveils Nation's Largest Urban Solar Panel Plant

Forty acres of solar panels can power roughly 1,500 homes

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010  |  Updated 9:45 PM CDT
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What was a brown, unproductive and contaminated field on <a title=Chicago's South Side a year ago is now home to more than 32,000 solar panels able to generate power for hundreds of homes each year." />

What was a brown, unproductive and contaminated field on Chicago's South Side a year ago is now home to more than 32,000 solar panels able to generate power for hundreds of homes each year.

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What was a brown, unproductive and contaminated field on Chicago's South Side a year ago is now home to more than 32,000 solar panels able to generate power for hundreds of homes each year.

Unveiled Wednesday, the 40 acres of panels in the West Pullman neighborhood is the nation’s largest urban solar plant.

"The project is a great example of the great things that when the government, private sector, non profit sector comes together.  Things can change," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Exelon Corp. signed a 25-year lease with the city and built the installation for $60 million.

Exelon spokesman Paul Elsberg said the Chicago solar plant is the company's "first foray" into solar power and the company hopes to learn more about how solar power operates.

Nationwide, there are more than 22,000 megawatts of large-scale solar projects under development, or enough to power 4.4 million homes, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Illinois has laws that aim to double the state's solar power supply and create thousands of "green" jobs.  Exelon hopes to learn from the West Pullman plant on how to better construct and operate more facilities like it in the future.

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