Double Black Diamond Solar Closes on Financing

By Benjamin Cox on August 11, 2023 at 1:30pm

The energy company behind the largest solar farm in the region announced earlier this week that it has closed on financing for the project.

Swift Current Energy, owner of the Double Black Diamond Solar project in Sangamon and Morgan Counties, announced on Wednesday that it had secured $779 million for the 800 megawatt solar project. Double Black Diamond Solar is expected to be the second largest single phase solar project in the US, and the largest solar project in the MISO energy grid.

The solar farm is expected to power the equivalent of more than 100,000 homes and reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions by approximately one million tons per year, according to a press release.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Societe Generale, and Truist served as the coordinating lead arrangers, for the landmark project financing, which includes $695 million in construction and tax equity bridge loans and an $84 million letter of credit facility, making it one of the largest project financings ever for a US solar project

Double Black Diamond Solar currently employs approximately 450 construction workers. Swift Current selected McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. as the engineering, procurement, and construction partner. he project utilizes First Solar modules, a majority of which are being manufactured in the US, as well as solar trackers from U.S.-based Nextracker.

Constellation Energy is expected to purchase a portion of the energy to serve the seven customers that have been announced. The City of Chicago will source renewable energy produced by the project to power several energy-intensive facilities, including Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport. Additionally, Cook County Illinois, CVS Health, Loyola University of Chicago, PPG, State Farm, and TransUnion have agreements to purchase power from the project via Constellation.

Swift representatives say during its operational life, the project is expected to provide $100 million in tax revenue to Sangamon and Morgan counties.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin toured the project today near Virden. Durbin credits the construction of the solar farm to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act from a year ago: “Swift Current Energy’s 600 megawatt bet on Illinois is a testament to our state’s potential as a leader in clean energy innovation. The Inflation Reduction Act triggered a tidal wave of change, with billions of dollars cascading into clean energy projects like Double Black Diamond, creating hundreds of jobs for Illinoisans and underscoring a revolution in American energy production.”

Double Black Diamond Solar covers over 4,100 acres between the two counties.

According to a press release from Durbin’s office, the IRA extended the solar investment and production tax credits for ten years, ensuring that up to 30 percent of a project’s costs can be covered by the federal government and that companies can claim $2.75/kilowatt hour of solar energy produced. The Solar Energy 2 Industry Association (SEIA) estimates that by 2033, the U.S. will quadruple its current solar capacity and produce more power via solar than coal did in 2022.