PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Community leaders and business representatives on Thursday celebrated the completion of 12-acre solar panel field in Peoria off Galena Rd.

The Peoria solar field is the second collaboration between Illinois American Water and Sol Systems, a national solar energy firm, for the next 15 years. There is another solar field in the Champaign area.

Both solar fields have rotating panels that convert light to usable energy and are the largest of their kind within parent company’s American Water’s national footprint.

Joshua Gunn, CEO of Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, was on-hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony.

“A truly collaborative effort to put forth more green and sustainable energy for Peoria,” said Gunn.

Karen Cotton, spokesperson for Illinois American Water, said it will reduce operating costs for them and then they pass on the savings to customers.

“To be able to harness this power to supplement that energy and to help reduce energy costs, that’s a benefit to Illinois American Water, it’s a benefit to the environment, and to our customers…Being a water utility, when you can reduce operating costs by $1, you can invest $8 in capital. So that’s huge for our customers,” she said.

State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) said the solar field is a prime example of corporate responsibility in green energy.

“This is a good demonstration of corporate responsibility the way it should be…This is a big step by a private company that has made this investment in our community and that speaks to the value that they have for this community and the kind of company they are,” he said.

Gunn said the solar field will bring additional economic opportunities to the Peoria area.

“For the Peoria area, a project like this represents a commitment, innovation, sustainability, a recognition that climate change is real, and it’s here, and we all have a role to play in protecting the future of this planet,” he said.

Illinois American Water expects to save more than $200,000 in annual energy costs. The two solar fields are expected to offset greenhouse gas emission of more than 16,000 cars, or 8.4 million gallons of gasoline, per year.