Chillicothe, IL—Mary Aylmer, Director of Chillicothe Public Library District, has been supporting smart renewable energy policy for many years, and when the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) passed in 2016, she was motivated to pursue more sustainable energy solutions for the library.
Aylmer has "always liked the idea of solar. It makes sense from a dollar and cents perspective, and is also in line with the library's sustainable development goals." With solar she saw an opportunity to reduce utility expenditures and reallocate the savings to things that matter most—providing the best materials and technologies for the community. "It also is a way that we can once again lead in the Chillicothe community by getting people and businesses to start thinking about their environmental impact."
For years Aylmer searched for a way to enable the Library to go solar. Since non-profits often do not have an excess of capital for such projects and cannot monetize tax incentives, they needed a creative financing option. Shannon Fulton, the VP of Development for StraightUp Solar, the Bloomington-based installer of the solar system, offered a solution: a Power Purchase Agreement. The library's forward thinking Board of Trustees approved the PPA in May 2019.
A Power Purchase Agreement allows for the project developer, Hawk-Attollo LLC, a Peoria-based social enterprise serving non-profit and other tax-exempt organizations, to partner in developing solar solutions that reflect their goals and values. The PPA will remain in effect for the next 25 years, however the library will have the option to purchase the system at any time after year 7.
The project is being financed and managed by SunRay Power, a 100% female owned and operated solar energy company. SunRay has over ten years of experience constructing, managing, and operating commercial sized solar energy projects in the United States. It is anticipated that the system will provide about 60% of their electricity needs at a greatly reduced cost per kilowatt hour (kWh).
Chillicothe Public Library has always been a leader in enriching their community, and now thanks to solar, they're helping make the world a better place too. They hope others will follow their lead and support solar energy.