Industrial Consumers Power

A solar-powered pork plant? Possible with PACE funding


In Beardstown, Illinois, a massive pork processing plant property of JBS Foods USA is currently being powered with solar energy. In fact, this was possible through a property assessed clean energy financing (PACE) program available in the state.

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A particular solar-power user

Jim Mullin, JBS’s director of energy procurement, said Energy News Network that the financing tool was crucial in getting a solar array. In fact, this solar array completed installation a year ago in May 2020.

Accordingly, JBS Foods USA reported it saved about $250,000 throughout the year thanks to the 2.6MW solar array installed at its processing plant.  Moreover, the company stated it is making progress towards its goals of net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

In fact, JBS Foods’s solar array consists of 7,200 panels on a lush field near the plant. According to Kari Lydersen, a journalist for ENN, JBS’s example might inspire other industries to embrace the form of financing for clean energy projects. 

Illinois leveraging PACE

Moreover, Beardstown is not only Illinois’s county that has a commercial PACE financing program in place. For instance, about a dozen counties or municipalities in Illinois, including Chicago, have similar PACE programs.

However, the JBS solar array is the largest renewable energy project sparked by PACE in the state. 

Notably, Mullin noted that without a PACE program, the company would not have fully leverage savings. For instance, under a more typical power purchase agreement (PPA), a solar developer would own the installation, and JBS wouldn’t benefit from federal and state solar incentives.

On the contrary, PACE programs allow companies to roll their debt payments for clean energy projects into property tax bills. Therefore,  the company can pay off the debt over a more extended period; for instance, 15 years in JBS’s case.

Finally, Illinois is among the 38 states that have legislation enabling PACE financing for commercial projects. However, the mechanism is still used relatively little because of consumers’ and public officials’ lack of familiarity with the option. 

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