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. 

  • 22 Jun 2010 12:04 PM | Michelle Hickey

    Sunseeker, Western Michigan University's solar car                  Special to the Gazette/John A Lacko

    On Saturday, solar-powered vehicles took off at noon from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, en route to the Chicago suburb of Naperville. ASC is a competition where students design, build and drive solar-powered vehicles in a rally event. This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of the ASC.

    In an effort to promote a greater understanding of solar energy technology, this hands-on competition provides the opportunity for students to “develop and demonstrate their technical and creative abilities” while learning about the benefits of solar power. (more)

  • 02 Jun 2010 4:28 PM | Michelle Hickey

    Watch the story

    A Northbrook couple says their neighbors were more concerned with green lawns than a "green" lifestyle. They were among those statewide who saw a homeowners association blocking their plans for the installation of solar panels on their own home. But, as CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports, those roadblocks seem to be melting away in the sun. 

    Solar energy panels seemed like a bright idea for the Goldmans and their sunbathed Northbrook home. 

"We have a southern exposure, which is the exposure you want to put up solar panels," said Phyllis Goldman, as she looks up at the sun shining over her two story roof. "The trees we have don't block it." 

    Phyllis and her husband Eugene are an environmentally conscious couple who have been recycling since the '70s. Four years ago, they drew up plans for a rooftop installation of several solar panels. 

"They don't add to the beauty of the house, but that's not the point of it," said Eugene. 

But the Goldmans live in a manicured, almost picture-perfect, private community where they knew outward appearances were subject to the approval of a homeowners association; an association that turned them down, in part over aesthetics. 

    "The last bastion of fascism is homeowners associations," said Phyllis. 

The decision had the green living couple seeing red. "If you don't want to do it yourself, that's your business, but to prevent somebody else from doing something that would be good for the environment, it's not good," said Phyllis. 

    Brandon Leavitt owns Solar Service, a company that specializes in solar energy. 

"Even on a cloudy day, we're generating electricity right now," said Leavitt, as we looked at a rooftop display of black solar panels that sit atop the roof of his business in Niles. 

He says for decades associations throughout Chicago have blocked solar panel installations. That's in spite of current federal programs offering considerable financial incentives for their purchase, and the fact that much of what's sold today arguably resembles a standard skylight. 

    "We think it's a freedom to choose," said Leavitt. "It's a freedom to choose to harvest the energy falling on your property," said Leavitt. 

    It's a choice now seeing the light of day thanks to Illinois' Homeowners' Solar Rights Act. It requires homeowners associations to adopt acceptable design standards for solar systems in buildings up to three stories tall. 

"Somebody just can't say, 'I don't like the way it looks, you can't do it,'" said Leavitt. 

    Re-energized, the Goldmans are now renewing their plans to power their home with the sun. 

"They should be grateful we didn't want to put up a windmill in our backyard," said Phyllis. 

The Homeowners' Solar Rights Act was approved by both Houses, and is awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature.

    (© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

  • 25 May 2010 10:10 AM | Michelle Hickey

    Jim Camasto loves sunny days. The Naperville resident, along with his wife Kath, enjoys seeing the sun out because it helps power his home. The Camastos have solar panels on their roof that provide both electrical and thermal energy to their home. On extra-hot days, excess electricity flows back into the Naperville power grid.

    “My neighbors are using it right now,” said Jim Camasto. “It’s a great way to produce energy. I just sit here and let the sun do it for me.”

    If you’re enrolled in Naperville’s renewable energy program, you contribute funds to purchase green energy from sources like Camasto’s solar panels. Click here to watch a video and read the article.
  • 21 May 2010 3:18 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The Illinois Solar Energy Association is seeking solar and wind energy professionals to teach introductory-level courses to the public and ISEA membership. Applicants should have in-depth knowledge of solar and wind technologies, experience public speaking and delivering presentations, and comfort teaching independently.

    ISEA courses generally run for three hours on Saturday mornings throughout the greater Chicago area, but also occasionally on weekday evenings.  All educational materials necessary for course delivery will be provided by ISEA. Instructors will receive compensation for their time and will have travel expenses covered.

    Interested applicants are to complete an application and submit it by June 18th.  Once applications are received and reviewed, a meeting will be scheduled at the ISEA office in Chicago to begin the vetting process.

    For more information, please contact Christopher Pell, Education Coordinator,

    Instructor Application
  • 05 May 2010 9:26 AM | Michelle Hickey


    Passed through the Energy Committee but defeated on the main floor last night in 17-26-6 vote!

    Senate Bill 380 amends the Illinois Power Authority Act (20 ILCS 3855/1-10) by expanding the definition of “renewable energy resource” and its associated “renewable energy credit” to include tire burning.

    Tire burning is not renewable energy. Renewable energy is produced from natural resources that do not pollute the air, water or land such as energy produced from: solar, wind, biomass (fibrous vegetation) and the earth’s thermal heat.

    Tires contain known carcinogens and poisons such as arsenic and benzene. Burning tires releases highly toxic dioxins as well as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 
  • 23 Apr 2010 8:52 AM | Michelle Hickey

    The City of Naperville, Department of Public Utilities-Electric (DPU-E) is expanding its use of renewable energy and raising public awareness by initiating a project to bring solar power to the department.  DPU-E is currently working with a local solar project developer, SoCore Energy, in building a 5 kW solar array on the property of the Fort Hill Dr substation at the intersection of 75th Street and Fort Hill Drive in Naperville.  The array, which is being donated and installed by SoCore will provide additional energy to offset the substation building’s energy needs.  The 25 panel array will be placed on the ground, and will have an estimated yearly energy production of 4,500 kWh.

    This clean energy project will provide a visual example of a renewable energy source.  DPU-E will use the project to enhance public awareness and aid in determining the feasibility and efficiency of solar power.

  • 14 Apr 2010 10:57 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Joe Compean designed a globe for the Chicago 2007 Cool Globe Project that utilized solar panels and LED lights.  Unfortunately a new high rise was built across the street, blocking much of the sun.  Joe is seeking assistance in finding replacement panels that would be able to generate enough energy using the reduced sunlight to power the LED lights.

    Contact Joe directly
    Joe Compean
  • 05 Apr 2010 8:31 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Thanks to a federal Stimulus grant, Ingersoll Machine Tools will soon retrofit their existing Rockford facility to manufacture wind turbine components, a move that will allow the company to retain nearly 70 existing jobs and create over 80 new jobs. According to a Press Release from the State of Illinois (more)
  • 05 Apr 2010 8:10 AM | Michelle Hickey

    School districts will be able to band together to develop renewable energy and sell the electricity to power companies under a bill that just passed the Illinois House - HB 6419 School District Intergovernmental Cooperation Renewable Energy Act.  No word yet on a Senate version.

    With state budget cuts forcing them to lay off dozens of teachers, three school districts in Chicago's suburbs are moving forward on a unique joint venture that could help secure their long-term financial future: a wind farm in central Illinois. (more)

  • 18 Mar 2010 4:35 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Mark Burger, ISEA President, will be participating in a round table discussion with energy, environment and government leaders about what's real and what's fantasy when it comes to keeping and creating jobs in Illinois' energy sector - and what can be done in Springfield to bring more energy jobs to our state.

    Click here to visit the website and email to register.

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