ISEA Policy Blog

Welcome to the ISEA Policy Blog. Catch up on the latest issues related to the adoption of solar and small wind energy in Illinois. We welcome your feedback and referral of newsworthy developments. 

  • 11 Jun 2012 9:54 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Last year during the veto session SB 1652, ComEd Smart Grid, passed and included language regarding net metering.  The new net metering language increased eligible system size from the previous 40 kW to 2 MW, but added the caveat of non-competitive customer class in order to qualify for 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit and free net meter installation.

    On May 30, 2012, SB 3811, passed both houses and succeeded in adding language to protect current and future renewable energy customers' ability to receive a 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit for their overproduction.  Now all customer classes that were not declared competitive as of July 1, 2011, both residential and 100 kW peak load customers, are eligible for 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit. 

    Be assured that if you currently net meter and receive a 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit on your bill, are a residential or 100 kW peak load utility customer, then your net metering arrangement will continue.

    New renewable energy customers who are residential or 100 kW peak load utility customers are also eligible for 1:1 kilowatt-hour net metering.

    All other customer classes that have been declared competitive are still able to net meter up to a 2 MW size system, but will receive the utilities avoided cost as a credit for over production.

    Net metering credits roll over month to month, but are annualized in April or October, depending on your agreement.  At that time any accumulated credits are erased and go to the utility.  An ISEA member and Solar Ambassador recently wrote about this issue, click here to read his blog post.
  • 04 Jun 2012 10:05 AM | Michelle Hickey
    On Thursday, May 31st the Illinois legislature passed the budget which included a $3.7 million appropriation to the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN).  The money is to be taken from the IL DCEO portion of the Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund, which typically contains $5 million - a loss of 75% of their funding.

    The Solar & Wind Energy Rebate program is typically allocated $1.5 million of the $5 million budget, but with only $1.3 million left in the fund after the sweep, it is unlikely to be continued for 2012-13.

    The ISEA will keep you posted as we learn more from IL DCEO.

  • 11 May 2012 9:06 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Original Post at Heatspring Magazine by Brian Hayden

    This week I flew to Chicago for the Illinois Solar Energy Association fund raiser.  Jigar Shah delivered the keynote to 70 registrants, packed into Emmett’s Place in Palatine.  I left at 9:30pm with an excited sense that Solar PV in Illinois is going to take off.

    Worried you can't compete with

    big, national solar companies?

    "Nothing could be further
    from the truth."

    This was my second Jigar Shah presentation, (here is my first) and I’m on the verge of becoming a groupie – the guy spews useful information at a prolific rate.  He delivered great Illinois-specific policy insights, but my favorite topic he covered was, “When explosive growth happens here in Illinois, and all of the big, national, solar installation companies begin flooding the market, and installed prices drop to $2.75/watt, how can you possibly compete?”

    When Jigar asked this question, the room got quiet, because it’s a very real concern for the small businesses that have been pushing a big rock up a hill for a long time.  They’ve built a market, invested in lobbying on the state level, and it would be bittersweet to watch the industry take off if they couldn’t reap the benefits.  Here was Jigar’s encouraging message:

    • Worried you can’t compete with bigger solar companies?  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Some of you might get bought, as the bigger players don’t know your market.  And some of you will grow to be the biggest players in this market because you know and care about your communities.  That does still matter.

    • You guys have a lower cost structure than the big guys.  Once you can get to 1 container/month, you’ll have the same materials cost structure, and you don’t have layers of management and overhead that the big guys do.  The most profitable solar contractors in the U.S. are 1 office, usually a husband and wife team, with 2 crews.

    • The only thing big companies have that you lack, is confidence.  You charge more because you plan to do one job per month and you need that job to cover salaries and overhead for that whole month.  Build a model to find out what sort of volume you need to do to install for $2.75/watt and start working toward that.  You have to believe it’s possible for it to work.

    • The biggest impediment to you making money in the solar business is the fact that you love solar so much, so you forget about the basic principles of business: you have to have more money coming in than going out.

    • Everyone here needs to understand third party financing.  It’s not as complicated as you think it is, and it’s a fundamentally easier sell, so it’s opening up bigger and bigger markets. (Note: HeatSpring has a free online Solar Lease Training.)

    • It’s critical that you understand how the SRECs are going to be valued here in Illinois.  Springfield is far, but you’ve got to go.  You think you’re above lobbying and getting involved with government, but they need to see your face, and they need to hear where you’ve installed solar, and who your customers are.  They care about that stuff and it makes a big difference. (Note: HeatSpring has a free online Understanding SRECs training.)

    Events like this are a great reason to join ISEA, or whatever your local organization is.  There’s no substitute for live networking, getting involved, and getting the inside scoop on what’s coming.

    The Illinois market feels like Massachusetts in 2008.   With the Renewable Energy World analysis of the Solar PV Market in Massachusetts in the back of my mind, I felt like I could provide useful lessons for how to win as the industry grows.  I truly think we’re going to see something great happen in Illinois in the coming years.

  • 30 Apr 2012 9:50 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Included in SB1652, now Public Act 097-0616, is a provision for the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to develop certification standards for solar PV and EV charging station installers. 

    Rulemaking on docket 12-0212 begins today. 
    The ISEA is intervening and will participate in this process.  ELPC and IBEW are also intervening. 
  • 17 Apr 2012 10:17 AM | Michelle Hickey
    After watching this video you will want to get solar for yourself.  Attend Solar Social (its FREE) on April 28th at Freedom Field in Rockford to learn how you can!

    Solar road trip through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio demonstrating solar working in the Midwest. 

  • 20 Mar 2012 9:55 AM | Michelle Hickey
    The Illinois Power Authority (IPA) is hosting a second workshop so that it may effectively include a distributed generation REC component, compliant with PA 097-0616, in its next Procurement Plan for 2013.  Presenting will be Brad Klein of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, who along with Paul Neilan (energy lawyer) and Thomas Russell (of ComEd) have volunteered to help lead our discussion.

    Monday, April 2, 2012
    1:00 - 4:00 PM

    Room N-505
    Michael A. Bilandic Building
    160 N. LaSalle Street
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (allow time to go through building security)

    Call In Information:

    (877) 402-9757
    Passcode:  9525407

    Please indicate your attendance plans by emailing
  • 29 Feb 2012 1:35 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Here’s a cool time lapse look at 42 tons of galvanized steel being delivered and installed Sunday, Feb 19th to the Avenue Garage in Oak Park as part of a 390 panel PV project awarded to Solar Service in a design bid competition last fall. Next week we attach our panel racking to this support structure and hope to complete the project a couple weeks later.

    The solar array on the parking garage will generate sufficient electricity not only to power the electrical needs of the garage, but also generate surplus power that can be sold back to the electric grid.

  • 29 Feb 2012 9:32 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Community Energy, a leading national wind and solar energy marketer, is seeking energetic self-starters with a passion for promoting clean energy in and around the Chicagoland area.  Promote clean, homegrown renewable energy and make a difference by signing up new residential customers for the 100% Illinois Wind and Solar Option.  This is a community-oriented, grassroots effort and lots of fun.

    Click here to read full job description

  • 21 Feb 2012 9:56 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Public Act 097-0616_Senate Bill 1652 (page 9 line 19) stipulates that at least .5% of the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2013 shall come from distributed renewable energy generation, .75% by 2014, and 1% by 2015.  Half of the distributed generation requirement shall come from systems 25 kW or smaller.  Table illustrating the Illinois RPS and the percentage to come from Distributed Generation.

    The Illinois Power Authority (IPA) is hosting workshops to assist with the development of a distributed generation renewable resource procurement plan for 2013. 

    Please take the time to attend the workshop in person to show that there is a solar and small wind community in Illinois that will be greatly impacted by the results of this workshop process.  It is important to voice your comments for the record.

    Friday, February 24, 2012
    1:00 - 4:00 PM
    Room N-502

    Michael A. Bilandic Building
    160 N. LaSalle Street
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (allow time to go through building security)

    Dial-in information:
    (877) 402-9757
    Access Code  9525407

    In the first meeting the IPA would like to ensure that participants are all fully informed of the necessary criteria for the program and to start the discussion.  In a second meeting participants will be welcome to present suggestions for how to deal with open items.  A third meeting, if necessary, will serve as a summary meeting.
    Please indicate your attendance plans by emailing

  • 21 Feb 2012 9:27 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Authored by

    Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a bipartisan local government initiative that allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings.

    Interested property owners opt‐in to receive financing for improvements that is repaid through an assessment on their property taxes for up to 20 years.  PACE financing spreads the cost of energy improvements such as weather sealing, insulation, energy efficient boilers and cooling systems, new windows, and solar installations over the expected life of the measures and allows for the repayment obligation to transfer automatically to the next property owner if the property is sold. 

    PACE is unique because it:
    • Creates badly needed local jobs.
    • Uses private capital, not taxes or government subsidies.
    • Saves money for building owners and increases property values.
    • Is voluntary – not a government mandate.
    • Promotes energy security without driving up energy costs.
    • Avoids the need to build costly new power plants.
    • Reduces air pollution.

    PACE programs were up and running in several states with 27 others passing enabling legislation, but then the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) issued a July 6, 2010 statement prohibiting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other governmental sponsored enterprises that it regulates from buying residential mortgages with PACE assessments.

    The United States District Court in Oakland, CA found that FHFA violated the Federal Administrative Procedures ACT when it issued its statement.  FHFA Rulemaking is underway with a 60 day Comment Period beginning January 26, 2012 to March 26, 2012.

    To learn more about this topic and how to make a comment,
    click here to go to PACENow.

    Read about
    Babylon's Long Island Green Homes PACE Program.

    Additional Resources

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