Officials hope solar farm will provide jobs, revenue to East St. Louis

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4 and Dan Greenwald / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 7:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 20 at 11:32 PM

(KMOV.com) – East St. Louis officials told News 4 a plan is in place to build a solar farm at the site of an on aluminum plant.

A proposal calls for a Massachusetts company to open a solar wind farm on the contaminated site of an old Alcoa plant.

“It basically left a site that was useless,” Mayor Alvin Parks said. “In fact, so useless you can’t even build upon that site.”

Parks told News 4 the site is being prepared to be the home of a solar farm that will feature solar panels on small platforms collecting energy from the sun before directing it to local residents and businesses. Parks said it could generate enough power to provide electricity to 4,000 homes.

“It is a big deal when you can say the city of East St. Louis has a new way of producing energy,” Parks said.

News 4 has learned Alcoa will pay for the massive cleanup that covering the site with soil, and regarding it to control storm water runoff.

The EPA said solar panels could be installed as soon as 2015 and many believe it will bring hundreds of jobs to East St. Louis. In order for the project to get off the ground, a bill needs to pass the Illinois legislature requiring it buy power from the solar farm for 20 years. Under the proposal, a 32 cent increase will be charged to each customer. The bill has yet to pass but Parks said it must become law, otherwise solar power will be too exepensive.

Officials told News 4 the project could bring East St. Louis $250,000 in new revenue.

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