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Illinois' Landmark Renewable Energy Bill Spurs Major Boost in Solar

How the goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 can benefit state businesses.

 

Earlier this week Illinois legislators passed a sweeping clean energy bill that commits the state to growing renewable energy use over the next three decades, with a goal to be carbon free by 2050. The bill, which was quickly signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker on September 15, has caught national attention and praise for its efforts to combat global warming, create clean energy jobs, modernize the power grid, provide greater electrical cost savings for customers, and jumpstart the state’s economy.

Among the many important new initiatives outlined, the bill includes provisions for:

  • the decarbonization of coal and natural gas plants
  • greater access to education and training for clean energy job seekers
  • the payment of prevailing wages for some types of renewable energy projects
  • the extension of financial aid to promote electric vehicle adoption and fortify nuclear power plant operations
  • the construction of new distributed generation systems


For businesses in Illinois, it is the last point above that provides a critical benefit. The state’s “Path to 100” will rely, in part, on local businesses to invest in onsite distributed generation (i.e. rooftop solar) systems. Clean energy produced by these systems can contribute to the greater goal, and the state wants to motivate businesses to adopt solar.

With the new legislation, Illinois companies that add solar now gain three important things:

  1. A more environmentally-sustainable operation. This point alone is worth substantial value for the impact it can have on customer and employee satisfaction and brand building. Operating in a more sustainable way shows integrity and high regard for the environment, health, and society.

  2. An immediate reduction in utility consumption and monthly energy expenses. When businesses generate some of their own power with solar, they need less energy from their utility. Businesses profit as new and long-term energy cost savings are realized throughout the life of the solar system (30+ years).

  3. A faster return on investment. Offsetting the cost of solar with newly-available state incentives allows for greater financial return over the life of the system.
Currently, renewable energy sources in Illinois account for only 7% of the state’s energy. To achieve the bill’s first milestone of 40% renewable energy use by 2030, the state will offer hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed subsidies to new distributed generation system owners.

Illinois' Adjustable Block Program

Subsidies have already proven to be a critical aspect in creating the existing renewable energy presence in the state. Illinois’ Adjustable Block Program (ABP), which was established in 2016, previously distributed more than $200 million in annual resources to boost renewable energy adoption. Due to immense interest throughout the state, especially for commercial, utility, and residential solar, available funds within ABP had completely run out by early 2020. The funding shortage has since created a waitlist of renewable energy projects that have been stalled until now.

With the recent legislation taking effect, both waitlisted and new distributed generation projects will receive benefit. The Illinois Power Agency will be given authority to procure approximately 2.5 million new renewable energy certificates (RECs) by June 2022 and 3.8 million new RECs per year from 2022-2030. RECs are tradable environmental assets that substantiate sustainability marketing claims (1 REC = 1,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy produced). Solar system owners earn RECs as their system produces clean energy; the RECs can then be sold using a market-based system to other entities (local governments, utilities, other companies) wishing to purchase them to enhance their own sustainability claims.

Passage of this bill enhances Illinois’ position as one of the most financially favorable places in the country for businesses to invest in solar. In addition to the state’s Adjustable Block Program, companies going solar in Illinois may also be eligible for other local incentives, including utility-provided solar rebates, favorable net metering policies, and Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. Moreover, significant incentives are also available at the federal level, including the Investment Tax Credit and the accelerated equipment depreciation model.

How Your Business Can Learn More About Illinois Solar Incentives

SunPeak is a full-service solar provider with extensive commercial solar design, construction, and commissioning experience in Illinois. If you would like to better understand the financial incentives provided by state and federal opportunities, please contact us for more information.

Ready to obtain more specific project costs (and incentive offsets) specific to your site? SunPeak will provide a free, no-obligation solar analysis for your facility, which includes an initial system layout with associated project costs, sustainability metrics, and available incentives

 

Krista Laubmeier

Marketing and Community Engagement Manager

Krista manages marketing initiatives, corporate communications and media relations for SunPeak. In addition to working closely with all departments within the organization, she also assists customers with the design and execution of their solar marketing plans.