While procurement laws still restrict the majority of campus purchasing contracts to ten years, there is a state of Illinois law that allows our campus to enter into Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that are as long as 25 years. See
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Clean Power Agreements Off-Campus (Ongoing)
The University purchases about half the electricity for campus through the wholly owned subsidiary of the University, Prairieland Energy Incorporated. In the 2010 iCAP, we committed to being carbon-neutral by 2050. The majority of campus emissions can be eliminated by implementing more sustainable practices and integrating renewable energy sources for the campus energy supply. One option for integrating renewable energy sources is to purchase green power through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The Energy SWATeam submitted a recommendation in May 2018 to “Explore the option of a PPA with a local solar developer.” Since then, Chancellor Jones and the Sustainability Council have provided direction regarding next steps. In March 2019, an analysis was completed regarding the anticipated costs for a physical PPA, in which the University would receive the solar energy when the sun was shining and the associated renewable energy certifications (RECs). This would require a reduction in electricity generation at Abbott Power Plant, but the fuel required would not change in order remain unchanged due to meet the steam demand on campus. The anticipated costs for a physical PPA were estimated to exceed $2.5M in the first year alone. In January 2020, a legal analysis confirmed the authority of the University Board of Trustees to enter into a Virtual PPA (VPPA), provided that they continue to carefully steward the university’s resources. The next step is to seek an energy advisor with experience in estimating future grid prices, so that the financial impact of entering into a large-scale VPPA can be considered.