For Geneseo residents, the electricity powering their homes now comes partially from the sun.

For Geneseo residents, the electricity powering their homes now comes partially from the sun.

The City of Geneseo’s new solar array has been “live” and producing energy for the city for the past three weeks.

“We’re getting a lot of good numbers. They’re even better than we thought, so we’re very happy with the production so far,” said Lewis Opsal, Geneseo electric superintendent.

Last fall, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, a private organization, approved a $1 million grant for the City of Geneseo to install a one-megawatt solar array near the wind turbines south of Geneseo.

Under the terms of the grant, the city has to pay the entire cost of the solar array up front and have the project operational by the fall to receive the $1 million grant, which would lower the project cost from $2.5 million to $1.5 million.

To receive the grant, the solar array has to be operational by the end October. Opsal said a few “final punch list items” still needed to be completed on the project, but once those items, as well as final drawings, are complete, the city will be able to submit final paperwork for the grant.

“We hope to have everything submitted to the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation by the first of October,” he said.

Previously, the city received a $1.3 million grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation to build two wind turbines.

“Illinois Clean Energy has been very good to us,” said Opsal.

A total of 700 support posts were installed. The posts and accompanying frames support 4,248 solar panels.

“This is an all-Illinois project,” said Opsal, who said all of the components come from Illinois businesses. Crews from J.F. Edwards Construction Co., in Geneseo, constructed the solar array.

“The crews from J.F. Edwards were great to work with,” said Opsal.

The panels are aligned at a 30-degree angle with a southern exposure.

As a result, Opsal said the solar array will see production increase during the fall and winter months.

Live data from the solar array can be tracked on the utility department’s page on the city’s website (

“You can tell when clouds pass over, because it’s amazing to see how quickly it can go from 950 kw of production to 100 kw,” said Opsal, adding 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.

“However, if our output stays at what we’re seeing now, we will be well above that goal,” he added. “There’s also no transmission costs for us because they’re right on our system.”

Opsal said the city’s long-term plan is to add 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. Payments should not increase electric rates.

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