US-based energy firm WEC Energy Group has agreed to buy an 80% stake in the Maple Flats Solar Energy Centre for a consideration of around $360m.

Located in Clay County, Illinois, the 250MW energy centre is being developed by renewable energy company Invenergy.

Covering 1,500 acres of land, the project will be equipped with 800,000 solar panels and is expected to become operational in early 2024.

Clean energy generated by the solar facility will be sold to an unidentified company under a long-term power purchase agreement.

The investment is WEC Energy Group’s first for its Infrastructure segment solar sector.

WEC Energy Group executive chairman Gale Klappa said: “The Maple Flats project demonstrates the growing opportunities for our Infrastructure business as we continue to invest in the production of affordable, reliable, and clean energy.

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“This project will help meet the energy needs of one of the largest companies in the world and further diversify our portfolio of renewable assets.”

Completion of the deal is subject to it receiving all necessary regulatory approvals.

WEC said that it has existing or planned investments in eight wind farms that have a combined capacity of more than 1.5GW.

The company also added that the Maple Flats facility is expected to be eligible for Production Tax Credits as outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act recently passed by Congress.

Based in Milwaukee, WEC Energy Group serves 4.6 million customers across Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

The company’s main utilities are We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and Michigan Gas Utilities, as well as Minnesota Energy Resources and Upper Michigan Energy Resources.

In March last year, WEC Energy Group agreed to acquire a 90% stake in the Jayhawk Wind Farm in Kansas for $302m.

The remaining 10% stake will be owned by Invenergy, which will also operate the wind farm.