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. 

  • 15 Apr 2011 5:06 PM | Michelle Hickey
    I am happy to report that House Bill 1913, sponsored by Rep Karen May, which raises the retail net metering limit for solar and wind power from 40 kW to 2 MW AC and increases the peak limit from 1% to 5%, has passed the House Public Utilities Committee 23-0 on April 13, 2011. 

    House Bill 1943, sponsored by Rep Ann Williams, which includes up to 25 kW and 25-2000 kW carve outs in the Renewable Portfolio Standard, has passed the House Environment and Energy Committee 17-0 on April 14, 2011. 

    Both bills now go to the full Illinois House for a short debate.  You can follow the legislation at the Illinois General Assembly website and insert "HB1913" or "HB1943" in the top keyword search on the left.

  • 15 Apr 2011 5:05 PM | Michelle Hickey

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  • 15 Apr 2011 5:04 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The Village of Riverside has drafted a solar ordinance for discussion at their Tuesday, April 19th Planning Group meeting.  Please review and send any factual data to support why solar should be a permitted in Riverside by Tuesday morning. Examples include, homes with solar sell faster and have increased property value, solar is affordable and prices for photovoltaic modules are going down.  

    As always, people who wish to promote solar development are encouraged to attend to comment on the development of this ordinance.  

    Village of Riverside Planning Committee Meeting
    Tuesday, April 19, 2011
    7:30 pm
    Riverside Village Office
    27 Riverside Road
    Riverside, IL 60546
  • 15 Apr 2011 5:03 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The Village of Oak Park is proposing to install a 95KW photovoltaic system on the top level of its "Avenue" parking structure located at 710 North Blvd (approx. 1/2 block east of Oak Park Ave. on North Blvd).
    A pre-proposal meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. at the Oak Park Public Works Center, 201 South Blvd, Oak Park.
    Proposals are due on or before Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 11:00 a.m. at the Public Works Center.

    Download RFP
  • 08 Apr 2011 2:53 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Invenergy, a Chicago wind and solar power company, plans to build a solar farm in Illinois utilizing new thin-film solar panels and inverters developed by GE. 

    The location of the solar farm is still undetermined, but the expected output is 20 MWh.

    adapted from Chicago Sun Times article
  • 06 Apr 2011 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    Japan is still feeling the devastating effects of the March 11th earthquake.  As some nuclear plants shut down and engineers try to stabilize others, the radiation is having a detrimental effect on natural resources.  Tokyo's 13 million residents were told not to give tap water to babies under 1 year old after contamination hit twice the safety level last week (learn more).  Radiation above safety levels has also been found in milk and vegetables from Fukushima and radioactive cesium 1.8 times higher than the standard level was found in a vegetable grown in a Tokyo research facility.  Australia and the United States are just a few countries restricting imports from the affected region. This nuclear crisis not only affects the country domestically but internationally as well.  What effect will this have on renewable energy development and policy? Will this deter other countries from nuclear power?
    The answers to these questions are unclear.  Since the quake, Japan has required a large supply of natural gas in order to fill the energy gap that nuclear power used to fill.  In rebuilding infrastructure, though, Japan may have a strong demand for all forms of distributed power, from mobile generators to PV arrays.  Some believe that distributed PV is the best low-cost alternative to imported natural gas, and therefore, modules created domestically and abroad will be in high demand by the Japanese.  Other experts, such as Piper Jaffray’s Ahmar Zaman, believe that "Demand for solar energy in Japan, among the top 5 markets in the world, will fall this year as the country focuses its resources on reconstruction and other recovery measures."  The role that solar power will play in Japan's energy market is still unclear.  As well, Japan's on-shore wind resource withstood the earthquake, and it is possible that the need for power may accelerate the development of wind energy.  Read more about Japan's future energy market here.
    The impact of Japan's quake and nuclear crisis has been seen around the globe.  Not surprisingly, the shares of U.S. and Chinese solar companies, such as First Solar, SunPower, Suntech Power and JA Solar, spiked after the earthquake, while many other stocks fell due to fear that there may be a nuclear meltdown (Read more).  Other countries are taking more extreme measures; Germany wants to abandon nuclear power.  Germany's transition was supposed to take 25 years, but they want to speed it up after Chancellor Angela Merkel called Japan's nuclear crisis a "catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions".  Germany has 85-percent public opposition to nuclear power. 

    How will this affect U.S. policy?  In President Obama's State of the Union address in January this year, he endorsed nuclear power. Roberta Gamble, director for energy markets at the research firm Frost & Sullivan, notes that countries worldwide, "Are likely to back away from the 'all-eggs-in-one-basket central power station' model"; meaning that the time of focusing all efforts on nuclear power are gone.  This also means that although solar stock prices rose, this will not become the only energy source.  Mixing numerous forms of renewable energy is the future.  We believe this is a prime opportunity to show off the benefits of renewable energy. 
    How can we do this?  By proving that Illinois is Ready for Solar!  Through education programs and advocacy campaigns, we can show others the benefits of solar power.  We have the ability implement new policies to prevent future disasters. 

  • 05 Apr 2011 9:35 AM | Michelle Hickey
    From 3/31/11

    FirstEnergy Corp.'s subsidiary Pennsylvania Power Company (Penn Power) has successfully contracted for 19,800 Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).  One SREC represents the solar renewable energy attributes of one megawatt-hour of generation from a solar generating facility.

    The procurement is part of Penn Power's plan to purchase SRECs to meet the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards through 2020.  This purchase of SRECs is equivalent to approximately 2,200 megawatt-hours of solar power generation annually over the next nine years, representing enough energy to power more than 300 homes.  Purchasing SRECs will help provide a stable basis for financing solar generation projects in the company's service area and help support the development of solar energy in the state.

    The average cost is $199.09 per SREC, with deliveries scheduled to begin in June 2011 and last through May 2020.  The results of the procurement were approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on March 11, 2011.
    The competitive bidding process was conducted by The Brattle Group – an independent evaluator and global economic and financial consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass.  Costs incurred to meet the solar requirements of Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards will be reflected in Penn Power customer bills beginning in June 2011.

  • 16 Mar 2011 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    While we emphasize Illinois’s leadership in the renewable energy field, how do we actually know if Illinois is more progressive than other states? The American Council on Renewable Energy’s (ACORE) report, “Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States” provides us with this information.  ACORE recently released their updated report on renewable energy, which compiles state-by-state financial, market, resource potential, and policy information.  While ACORE does not make many comparisons between states, they provide the basic facts from which you can draw conclusions.

    Illinois is described as, “one of the top electricity-generating states in the nation and a leading net exporter of electricity to other states. It is also home to some of the most extensive wind and biomass resources in the nation. The state has attracted large amounts of investment capital due in large part to an aggressive renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and progressive state and local incentives.”  

    Illinois’s extensive wind and biomass resources are further emphasized in the report:
    • Illinois ranked second in the nation in overall biomass resources in 2007, with 28,284,000 tons available per year.
    • The American Wind Energy Association ranks the state 16th in the nation for potential wind capacity
    • The wind energy supply chain in Illinois comprises of over 100 companies. Chicago is home to at least 13 global or U.S. headquarters of major wind power companies.
    (See more here)

    ACORE points out that Illinois received large amounts of investment capital due to an aggressive RPS, as well as state and local initiatives.  One of these investments came in the form of funding from the Recovery Act.  In fact, the report states that Texas and Illinois received the most funding from Recovery Act competitive grant and tax credit programs (1603 and 48C) to fund renewable energy projects and manufacturing facilities (read more). 

    We need to maximize the grants and capital invested in Illinois renewable energy and also show that Illinois is a promising investment for the future.  We can do this through adhering to our RPS, which requires that suppliers produce 25% of their energy from qualifying renewable energy sources by 2025.  As this policy is seen as “aggressive”, Illinois will receive more national attention and investments if we stay on the track to meeting this goal.  This means creating an Alternative Compliance Price or other penalty for non-compliance with the RPS, and extending the now expired In State Preference for renewables used to meet the RPS.  This guarantees that investments in Illinois renewable energy will stay in Illinois and policies will be followed as we develop new technology and create new jobs in the renewable energy field. With these recommendations, we can continue to lead the Midwest in the transition to renewable energy. Check out ISEA’s other 2011 policy goals to see what else we can do to remain renewable energy leaders.

    ACORE’s report also looks at Net Metering, Loan Program, Bond Program and Tax Incentives throughout Illinois, and each state in the U.S.  Take a look at the report to see how other states stack up in renewable energy policy and development.

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  • 03 Mar 2011 10:34 AM | Anonymous

    As states across the U.S. create optimistic energy goals, they are looking for ways to better utilize solar energy.  To date, 24 states have adopted Renewable Energy Standard (RPS) policies.  Illinois hopes to have 6% of its energy this year coming from renewable sources, and 25% of its energy by 2025.  If you think this sounds like a lofty goal, Hawaii hopes to have 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.  Why the difference? Unlike mainland states, Hawaii does not have access to many fuel sources, such as natural gas or rivers for hydropower.  Instead, their main energy source is petroleum.  Combining Hawaii’s soaring electricity costs (highest in the nation) with the want to limit climate change effects, their 70% goal does not seem so unreasonable. 

    A major barrier in reaching these goals is energy storage.  Intermittent power takes time to build up, and can lessen on days without sun or wind.  This causes utilities to increase production sporadically, and does not allow for back-up energy during power outages.  Finding a way to harness and store energy efficiently would solve these dilemmas. The Dept. of Energy’s Energy Storage Council estimates that the widespread use of high-density energy storage would save the U.S. $175 billion over the next 15 years. 

    Recently, HNU Energy and International Battery teamed up to test renewable energy storage in Hawaii.  The energy storage system created consisted of “four battery modules,  32 160AH lithum iron phosphate (LFP) and a batter management system (BMS) integrated into a standard Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA) 19-inch portable rack mount chassis and enclosure.  The large format lithium ion batteries were chosen because of their high energy density, robust thermal and cycling performance as well as easy system expandability”.  Ramp up/ down studies, among others, tested the batteries’ ability to store energy and hold a charge.  As well, a graphical user interface (GUI) allows HNU Energy to monitor and control the batteries.  Read more about the project here. The success of Hawaii’s energy storage brings optimism to all solar energy advocates.  As we transition into a renewable energy economy, more of these projects will help us reach our RPS policy goals.

    One of ISEA’s legislative goals in 2011 is to create an Alternative Compliance Payment or other penalty for non-compliance with the Renewable Portfolio Standards.  Only through enforcement of RPS policy, can we reach our goal of 6% renewable energy this year! Hawaii’s energy storage project proves that we have the technology and capability to implement renewable energy practices into our everyday lives.

    Help spread the word that Illinois is Ready for Solar, and join the discussion on our LinkedIn page.

  • 24 Feb 2011 9:17 AM | Anonymous

    In our previous blog, we delved into the SunShot Initiative, the Dept of Energy’s plan to stimulate the solar and wind industry by providing $77 million in funding.  The goal of this initiative is to spur renewable energy technology, as well as improve the design and permit processes.  Spreading solar awareness and creating numerous jobs are also offshoots from this program receiving a lot of support.  With the recent excitement around SunShot, other renewable energy ideas are beginning to surface!

    In 2010, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Ten Million Solar Roof Act, a plan to put solar panels and water heaters on 10 million of America's roofs by 2020.  Although approved by the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee in July, 2010, no other advancements have been made.  With the help of SunShot’s plan to lower solar installation costs by 75%, Sanders’ bill is resurfacing. Shayle Kann, managing director of solar research at GTM Research states, "These are two parallel but distinct programs. They could play together very well because undefined to the extent that the SunShot initiative is successful undefined it will lower the [financial] incentives that are required per project for the Ten Million Solar Roof Act” (read more ).

    In the State of the Union, President Obama, proposed building 20 million solar installations nationwide by 2020.  While Sanders’ bill calls for about half of this number, the support from the Federal level is encouraging.  "I look forward to working with the Obama administration to incorporate elements of the new solar initiative into the Ten Million Solar Roofs Act to make the legislation even stronger," Sanders said in a Feb. 4 press release. "We have an opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and make America the world leader in solar energy."  Learn more about the Ten Million Solar Roof Act here.

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