Last week, installation was completed on 1300 solar panels across eight buildings on Greenville University’s main campus, thanks to an Illinois renewable energy program that allows the school to acquire the system at no up-front cost and pay over six years with the energy savings realized.
GU entered a six year rent-to-own contract for the panels with local Litchfield company, IL-Solar. Through Illinois’ Adjustable Block Program, part of the 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act, IL-Solar can claim incentives and tax benefits on the panels throughout the rental period.
GU pays nothing up front and will realize savings on energy costs estimated at $70-80K per year, or about 75% of GU’s annual 939 megawatt power needs. After the six-year rent-to-own period, GU will pay the total of those savings to IL-Solar and own the solar panel system. The panels remain under warranty for 25 years and are projected to far outlive their warranty.
Purchased outright, a solar panel system of this size would typically cost upwards of $1M, making this program an elegant solution for a small school.
“We’ve been talking about utilizing solar power for a long time here at the University,” says Mark Owens, director of GU’s facilities team. The University began its application for this program in 2018.
Department Chair of Biology and Chemistry Eric Nord said GU’s mission as a Christ-centered institution should create a sense of urgency around pursuing renewable energy. “We believe that the human vocation is to be bearers of God’s image to all creation,” he says, which means caring for the earth. “Installing these solar panels is one small step in the direction of putting this belief into action.”