Solar power in the Tri-States: it's not the future, it's happening now. A first of its kind solar electric facility is being built in Scott County.
Officials broke ground Friday afternoon south of Winchester on a $1.8 million solar plant.
The Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative says about 2,500 solar panels will be installed over four acres. At full capacity, it could provide enough electricity for about 170 homes on the hottest day of the year.
"This is a perfect location for solar, it's on a south facing hill. And we were able to get substantial support from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and that enabled us to do that," said IREC General Manager Bruce Giffin.
IREC also operates a wind turbine in Pike County. Officials say the potential for renewable energy in this area is an untapped resource.
"What we need to do is intelligently use all of the energy resources that we have in the most benign environmental way possible," said Giffin.
Giffin also say the solar power will be less expensive than their purchased power, and there will a slight lowering in electric bills.
Construction is expected to take about three months.
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