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Community Solar: Provisions for Community Solar in Illinois

Future Energy Jobs Act

A state law that went into effect in 2017 made Illinois more attractive for community solar projects. The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) provides incentives and other terms for community solar, including:

  • creates bill credits - community solar subscribers can reduce the energy supply portion of their bill through virtual net metering
  • fixes the state's renewable portfolio standard to establish clear, predictable incentives for community solar programs -- at minimum, requiring an estimated 200 MW of community solar development in Illinois by 2020 and 400 MW, total, by 2030
  • in the ComEd and Ameren service areas, establishes a rebate for behind-the-meter (customer side) and community solar distributed generation projects that use a smart inverter; the rebates are subject to a phase-in for smaller customers
  • mandates transferability and portability
  • defines system and subscriber characteristics 
    • Subscribers and project located in the same utility territory 
    • Maximum project size: 2 MW (except no size limit for solar projects developed on brownfields)
    • Minimum subscription size: 200 W 
    • No individual subscriber may own or lease more than 40% of a project
    • ComEd, Ameren, or MidAmerican must purchase unsubscribed energy at avoided cost
  • Illinois Commerce Commission and Illinois Power Agency must sign off on any community solar contract

Learn how to take advantage of the new law from the documents in this section.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition's website provides summaries of FEJA and other resources   https://ilcleanjobs.org/resources/


 

Community Solar in Illinois

Citizens Utility Board – 2017

Community solar allows Illinois consumers to receive solar energy even if they do not have solar panels installed on their homes, or the space to do so. Residential and business electric utility customers that are “subscribed” to the community solar garden can receive credit on their electric bills. Those with solar panels can send their excess energy back to the power grid to receive credits towards their electric bills as well, called net metering. Host customers, like homes, businesses, or schools can recruit neighbors to invest in the solar energy project. 

Individuals or entities can subscribe to several solar panels to help fund solar energy installation in their community. There are no restrictions to who can participate. Residential and business customers can participate, by hosting or subscribing to a site or project. 

There are numerous benefits to community solar. These includes lower electric bills for both subscribers and non-subscribers; greater reliability; reduced peak demand; added financial benefit through selling Solar Renewable Energy Credits (S-RECs); consumer education; and community improvement. S-RECs can be can be owned or sold to the state to meet its renewable energy goals. 

 

Illinois Solar Energy Association, "Growing Energy Jobs Downstate: FEJA Overview" (Aug. 2017)

 

Natural Resources Defense Council, "The Health Benefits of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act" (April 2017)

Estimates of human health benefits in Illinois communities from growing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 

Illinois Power Agency, Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, Final Plan (August 6, 2018)

Description:  Conforms with the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Final Order in Docket No. 17-0838, dated April 3, 2018, and Amendatory

Order dated May 2, 2018

Contents include these three chapters related to community solar:

  1. "Chapter 6 describes the Adjustable Block Program. This includes details on the structure of the blocks, REC (and adder) prices and pricing model development, the application process, payment terms, the process for adjusting prices, the process for approving vendors, project specifications, consumer protections, delivery requirements, and more." 
  2. "Chapter 7 describes the Community Renewable Generation Program including standards for colocation, eligibility of projects located in municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives, subscriber requirements, consumer protections, legal issues around marketing claims related to RECs, and the responsibilities of utilities." 
  3. "Chapter 8 describes the Illinois Solar for All Program including the program funding and design; customer terms, conditions, and eligibility; and an approach to designating environmental justice communities."

Illinois Power Agency website for the Adjustable Block Program

On August 6, 2018, the Illinois Power Agency launched a website for the Adjustable Block Program, www.illinoisabp.com.  The Agency expects to open the program for vendor registration on November 1, 2018, and for project applications from Approved Vendors on January 15, 2019. You can sign-up on the website to receive announcements related to the development of program materials and information for the Adjustable Block Program. 

Illinois Power Agency, “Renewable Energy Credit Prices For the Adjustable Block Program and the Illinois Solar for All Program” (June 4, 2018)

This schedule shows prices established by the Illinois Power Agency for Renewable Energy Credits from community solar power projects in seven size categories.  The Group A prices apply to Ameren Illinois and MidAmerican.  The Group B prices apply to ComEd. 

Also in the schedule are prices for Community Solar Small Subscriber Participation Adjustments, Low-Income Community Solar Initiative, and other programs.

Illinois Power Agency, “Forward Procurements Workshop For RECs from new utility-scale wind, utility-scale solar, and brownfield site photovoltaic projects” (June 12, 2018)

Workshop presentation describing key points on the Illinois Power Agency’s procurements of Renewable Energy Credits.  Discussion of items includes:

  • Proposed eligibility requirements
  • Initial REC delivery date
  • Credit and collateral provisions
  • Key contract terms
  • Project application/maturity requirements
  • Brownfield site eligibility