Skip To Main Content
Principia College Logo
Principia College Breaks Ground on Solar Farm to Further its Sustainability Goals

Principia College Breaks Ground on Solar Farm to Further its Sustainability Goals
Benefits of the Solar Farm extend beyond the College and include planting of native trees.

ELSAH, IL (April 11, 2024)—Principia College today announced the groundbreaking of its Solar Farm as part of the College’s commitment to sustainability and minimizing its ecological footprint. The Solar Farm will enable Principia College to produce renewable electricity on site and ensure continued use of the land as a pollinator habitat. Native trees will replace non-native species that were removed to ensure maximum light penetration to the solar array. The site is located across from the Principia College Gatehouse along Beltrees Road, providing easy access for teaching and learning. 

The solar array will be ground-mounted on six acres and feed 1.65 megawatts directly into Principia College’s grid. Once completed in summer 2025, the solar array is expected to meet 28 percent of annual electricity needs for the campus. While Principia College will consume the electricity, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) will be sold to the state of Illinois to allow Illinois utility companies to meet renewable energy targets. 

“The solar array is the result of years of planning and is a testament to the College’s commitment to our 2025 Strategic Plan,” said Dr. Nicholas Johnson, Assistant Professor in Sustainability and Economics and Chair of the Principia College Department of Sustainability. “We intend to incorporate data gathered from the solar array into our classes to help students have a better sense of the scale of energy production and consumption.” 

Principia College has partnered with a Missouri engineering and construction company, Azimuth Energy, to design the Solar Farm, which uses German-made inverters and Korean solar panels that are manufactured in the state of Georgia. The College is exploring the use of American-made panel supports as well.

Some trees have been removed to prepare the site for the Solar Farm, making way for 40–50 native trees of varying species that are lower in height. “Through strategic tree removal in preparation for the array and replanting with native species, we hope to enhance the ecosystem integrity of properties adjacent to the array,” said Principia College Director of Facilities Lee Eubank. “Also, the pollinator mix of native grasses and wildflowers planted beneath the array will increase habitat for vital pollinator populations.”

“I’d like to thank our Sustainability faculty members Dr. Karen Eckert and Dr. Nicholas Johnson, as well as retired Contracts Officer Bruce Alioto, who have been shepherding the idea of this Solar Farm project for years,” said Principia College President Dr. Daniel Norton. “This project aligns with our sustainability planning efforts to achieve zero waste and carbon neutrality. In addition, as utility prices are likely to increase in the future, we look forward to electrical savings throughout the 30-year lifespan of our solar array.” 

View video highlights from the groundbreaking event, listen to the KMOX interview, and view the KMOV Channel 4 solar news story

Follow Principia College on LinkedIn LinkedInFacebookYouTube, and Instagram for Solar Farm project updates and more. Learn more about Principia College’s 2025 Strategic Plan and initiatives.