Pillsbury Mills in Springfield Illinois is a perfect opportunity for CWLP to diversify it’s energy production. It’s long overdue for City Water, Light, and Power to move away from coal. Internationally and within United States it’s been very clear for some time that coal industry is dying. Unfortunately Springfield politicians have shown time and again they are not forward-thinking. So there is little hope this former industrial complex will be redeveloped into a solar farm.
Unused and sometimes toxic industrial sites are called brownfields. These locations are ideal for solar and wind farm projects. Wind may be slightly less suitable when taking into account conditions for optimal performance. Former Pillsbury Mills plant is a great example of an industrial site waiting to provide clean energy. It has sat empty and unused for a many years. Similar to many long abandoned factories – surrounding community has dealt with negative effects of this relic. Air quality problems, safety of neighborhood children, homeless encampments, metal scavengers and criminal activity.
While this solar farm would be a long way from powering the whole city. It is one step in right direction towards renewable power creation. It also gives a blighted unused property a proper purpose again. This is a much more realistic reuse than pinning hopes on a retail development or new manufacturer moving in.
To complement adjacent railyard and future 1oth Street Rail Corridor a rail museum could create a secondary use along with solar project. Offering an educational attraction for locals and tourist. This would also provide a safe location for railfans to enjoy their hobby.
Recent news has made Springfield taxpayers aware that our city owned coal-fired plants are at end of their useful life. Cost of operation and maintenance is no longer economically viable. While no one likes to see job losses – it’s long past due to retire these units and move towards cleaner energy production.
Over past 5 years or so Springfield businesses and citizens having been adopting solar at an increasing rate. CWLP has a test solar farm in operation – but nothing large scale. How CWLP has handled their MySolar rollout at that test farm – has me concerned this taxpayer owned utility isn’t serious about solar power generation.
If Pillsbury Mills did receive new life as a solar farm. Consideration should be given to use that power to energize surrounding neighborhood. Possibly at a reduced rate as a way to help middle class in area who have be affected by this current wasteland. It’s always annoyed me when I see solar and wind farms shipping power to faraway cities while locals don’t have an opportunity to use that clean energy.
Communities that have been more forward-thinking in terms of cleaner energy in our region are Champaign-Urbana and Normal Illinois. An example of a town that has plenty of brownfield opportunities is Decatur. Instead of redeveloping these into solar projects – they have large complexes that just sit empty in hope that one day some new manufacturer will appear. These rarely if ever arrive and these properties just decay and become eyesores.
With current administration – I’m not sure a lot of federal funding would be available compared to previous years. So financing these projects could be troublesome. There are examples of private companies in larger cities redeveloping decaying industrial complexes. I’d venture a guess that type of financing would be less available for mid-size towns. Many have been accomplished with a mix of public and private funds.
A solar farm would create local jobs developing site. Granted long term there would be less employment opportunities than current staffing at coal-fired plant.
Example of a brownfield project in New Jersey.
We are almost at the end of 2019 and Springfield Illinois is still waiting for a full cleanup of this industrial property.
Obviously site was not cleaned to point of being safe or in a manner where it can currently be put to reuse. Illinois EPA offices which had their own environmental issues are just down the road from Pillsbury Mills property.
“This project has been completed. U.S. EPA removed, transported, and disposed of asbestos-contaminated waste inside and outside of every building. The site has been turned over to Illinois EPA. The cleanup, which lasted about nine months”
United States federal Superfund law is officially known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA)
Brownfield is a term used in urban planning to describe land previously used for industrial purposes or some commercial uses.
My experience is that this was false. But that is an article for another day.