In honor of the development and use of green energy sources, the City of Geneseo was recognized as a 2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award winner.

In honor of the development and use of green energy sources, the City of Geneseo was recognized as a 2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award winner.

The award honors public and private organizations that have “implemented outstanding and innovative sustainable techniques or technologies, demonstrating a commitment to sustaining environmental, social and economic health.”

In the fall of 2015, Geneseo went “live” with a one-megawatt solar array, located near the city’s two wind turbines, which were built in 2008.

A total of $2.5 million was spent to build the solar array, which contains 4,248 panels.

Lewis Opsal, the city’s electric superintendent, said 100 percent of the electricity produced by the city’s solar array and two wind turbines stays in Geneseo.

Between the wind turbines and the solar array, Opsal said the goal is for those entities to produce 14 percent of the city’s electricity.

Long-term plans include adding an additional four megawatts to the existing one-megawatt solar array.

To pay for the current solar project, $2.5 million in debt certificates were issued. The debt certificates have been structured to feature an early call for $1 million, representing the grant amount, with the remaining $1.5 million paid over a 10-year period.

After 10 years, the one-megawatt solar array is expected to generate between $140,000 and $200,000 in annual revenue.

The city also was commended for its electronic waste collection program and use of LED street lights.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Opsal and fellow electric department employee Eric Rowold, as well as Geneseo Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda and Alderman Martin Rothschild attended an awards ceremony in Chicago.

The mayor called the award “truly an honor.”

Geneseo was recognized alongside companies like United Airlines and ComEd.

“To see our small city amongst the big companies and communities shows that we really take our social responsibility seriously. The work we’ve done is outstanding,” said Carroll-Duda.

Alderman Rothschild said others at the awards ceremony took note of Geneseo.

“They were impressed at what a city our size could do to generate green energy. It was a chance for us to show off the city,” he said.