While the state of Illinois gears up for the implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) – which provides the opportunity for 2,000 MW of solar to be developed by 2020 – communities and counties are making sure that they will be ready for the influx of solar projects.
A cohort of 15 Metropolitan Mayors Caucus members recently received SolSmart designations, bringing the total up to 18 in Illinois, the highest in the country. These communities were honored at a ceremony at the Argonne National Lab on Friday, February 2nd, with many environmental advocates and state representatives in attendance, including Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. SolSmart is an initiative led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association and funded by the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, with additional support from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the US Environmental Protection Agency. SolSmart was created to streamline processes on the local level to make it easier and more affordable for home and business owners to go solar.
According to officials, “To receive designation, municipalities and counties make changes to their local processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This includes evaluating local permitting processes, as well as planning and zoning procedures. These actions help solar companies greatly reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers, making the community ‘open for solar business.’”
Lesley McCain, Executive Director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association, spoke briefly at the ceremony, pointing out that it is critical for state and local government to step up on environmental issues as federal protections and policies are dismantled. “The actions taken though the SolSmart program will allow homeowners and businesses to easily take part in new opportunities afforded by FEJA. The people who live and work in your communities will enjoy a better quality of life! Families will have lower electric bills, jobs will be created, and our air will be cleaner. The work done by the local governments being recognized here today will be emulated by others in the state. The impact of these achievements will continue to grow.”
Communities receiving the Gold designation include City of Aurora, Village of Beach Park, Village of Park Forest, Village of South Barrington, and Will County.
Communities receiving the Silver designation include Village of Hawthorn Woods, Village of Richton Park, and Village of Schaumburg.
Communities receiving the Bronze designation include Village of Brookfield, Village of Darien, Village of Glencoe, Village of Hanover Park, Village of Highland Park, Cook County, and Kane County.
To see exactly what actions were taken by each town or county, click here. For an overview of the program, click here. To learn how your community can get designated, click here.
As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All cities and counties are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org.