A Look at ISEA's Legislative Goals

10 Jan 2011 11:39 AM | Anonymous

If you are reading this blog (first of all, thank you for supporting our work and please continue to do so through our Illinois is Ready for Solar campaign!) you most likely have an interest in solar energy. You may work in the renewable energy field or hope to do so with the creation of green jobs. Regardless of your connection to solar energy, do you know the current policies and proposed legislation surrounding renewable energy? Most people do not. We, at the Illinois Solar Energy Association, partner with other organizations to create annual legislative goals. ISEA and the Environmental Law & Policy Center have created the following goals for the 2011 session:

1. Raising the net metering cap to 1-2 MW. This would encourage big box stores to install solar by extending the retail-to-retail rate from the current 40 kW, expanding projects for installers and increasing the amount of solar energy generated. Learn more about net metering in ISEA’s "‘Freeing the Grid’ Grades States on Renewable Energy Policies" blog.
2. Extending the now expired in-state preference for renewables used to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Through 2011, electrical utilities must utilize eligible in-state renewable energy resources. After 2011, equal preference is given to resources in-state and in adjacent states.
3. Creating a solar prioritization such that Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) are procured first to meet the solar RPS. If this is not achieved, wind energy may use all of the funding and hit the current 2% rate cap on all renewable expenditures. This 2% rate cap will be reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in 2011, who will report to the General Assembly if it "unduly constrains the procurement of cost-effective renewable energy resources." We will delve more into this issue in an upcoming blog.

These are only half of the legislative goals and three more will be presented in our next blog. Stay tuned and Check out ISEA’s policy page to look at other legislation.

If you are interested in renewable energy policy, be sure to register for Solar Drinks in Chicago on Jan. 11th! Mix and mingle with other professionals interested in renewable energy.

ISEA is now on Twitter! Follow us and stay up-to-date on solar energy news.

Webinar Q&A

Q: There is a 2% limit on rate increases. Are you sure this is not a problem? The rate increase is in reference to the total procurement, so we do not anticipate it being an issue.

Q: I am a homeowner. Your invitation stated you may have some new information concerning Gov. Rauner's budget. That's what I'm particularly interested in. The proposed budget for 2015/2016, at this time has eliminated rebates and grants. ISEA’s position is that we will continue to advocate for the continuation of this program. There is also a legislative bill that has proposed an extension to this program through 2020 which we support and will continue to track.

Q: Can you provide an REC typical value for an average sized home with this proposed declining block program? I have a hard time explaining the value of RECs. Since Illinois has not had a REC price in the past, it’s difficult to estimate what the initial market value may be. The supplemental procurement will go a long way in establishing Illinois REC market prices. In the meantime, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) will continue to research other markets to make the best decisions for the Illinois market. The goal, of course, is to install solar, and the purpose of the REC is to incentivize solar purchases and ensure pricing makes economic sense. As a reminder, there’s still a bit of the process left before we see what price RECs will have in Illinois. Once the legislation has been passed, and the REC price is published, we’ll update as needed.

Q: What recs are available for people who installed solar systems in 2014? If the system was energized prior to January 21, 2015, you qualify for the regular procurement event in September 2015.

Q: Does Exelon nuclear energy qualify as renewable energy with the 35% by 2030? It does not. Renewable energy is defined within the statute and includes wind, solar, and biofuels. More information can be found at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=88&GA=99&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=2607&GAID=13&LegID=88134&SpecSess=&Session=

It is important to note that the Clean Jobs Bill, not to be confused with other energy bills, is the only bill that focuses on renewable energy while producing 32000 jobs per year.

Q: Will clean energy that has already been produced from existing systems be considered for auction? No. The RECs will only be from the contract date of the accepted bid moving forward.

Q: If I plan to install more solar panels in 2015, are IL rebates still available, or is it dependent on Governor Rauner's budget proposal? The program for the 2014/2015 fiscal year is closed. So any future rebate availability will depend on the budget proposal. However, consider the procurement events of 2015/2016 as potential funding sources.  This scenario strongly highlights why we need to pass the Clean Jobs Bill (HB2607/SB1485) as it will provide a way to raise the status of renewable energy to equal that of all other forms of energy. Thus, any perceived dependence on rebates and grants will be removed.

Q: Evidently the 2014/20­15 rebates were frozen. Is that still the case? At this time, rebate decision letters have gone out, clarifying which will be paid and informing the owners that no further extensions will be granted.

Q: When will the specific process of solar customers contracting to be paid for future SRECs in place of the Illinois DCEO Rebate program be rolled out?­ The first supplemental procurement will be June 18, 2015. Aggregators are already available. We have a list of preferred companies here http://www.illinoissolar.org/SRECTrade-FAQ

Q: Once the REC schedule is defined, can you post some investment payback time scenarios on the ISEA blog, including the declining block ­ to let people know what is a realistic investment outlook?

We will try, however, we don’t anticipate seeing any information on this until early to mid 2016.

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