ISEA Blog

Welcome to the ISEA 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. 

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  • 12 Mar 2014 2:46 PM | Lucas Kappel (Administrator)

    Lisa Albrecht, ISEA Policy Committee Co-chair and Renewable Energy Specialist for Solar Service, Inc., 


    Quite a lot going on within the world of solar policy at the moment!  Here’s a quick summary but please let us know if you have any questions or feedback.   In order to keep everyone aware and engaged, we are looking at hosting regular webinars and will also communicate via ISEA newsletters and blogs.  Watch your email for dates and schedules!  

    RPS FIX

    As you may know, the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)  requiring 25% of all state energy to come from clean sources by 2025 is broken.  Technical problems with the funding calculations means IL would not have a Renewable Energy Credit (REC’s) program until 2018.  ISEA is the only source of state REC’s currently through the RECAP program and it is closed for the year.  Fixing the RPS will drive more sales, resulting in more clean energy, increased savings, energy independence and more solar JOBS.  A fix is close at hand and we will be heading to Springfield to walk the floors and get support for passage,  Here are a few talking points and links to look up your legislators


    DCEO Rebate Extension

    State rebates and grants are set to sunset in December 2015. Sounds like a long time but that is tomorrow in legislative years.  We are working with state legislators to expand rebates possibly to 2020 which will help home owners and businesses with the upfront costs and help stimulate the growth needed to continue to push installation prices down.  We are going to need your help so please watch for more information. 


    Operation Whoville


    Remember the Disney movie “Horton Hears a Who”?  ISEA is launching an awareness campaign designed to let lawmakers and policy makers on all levels know WE ARE HERE!  We are asking all solar installers, industry partners and most importantly – SYSTEM OWNERS – to write, call, visit senators, representatives, mayors, aldermen, city clerks and anyone else you can think of!  Brag about what you've done and get noticed!  We will provide you with pre-written letters to make it easy and links on our website will help you track down contact information!  Please support us with this vital step in growing the industry.  


    We know it will take a little work but strongly believe we need to start shouting:  We are Here, We are Here, We are Here!  Please support us with this vital step in growing the industry.


    Interconnection Standards


    The Environmental Law and Policy Center has filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to update the renewable energy interconnection standards to be in line with FERC standards revised late last year.   This should streamline the application process, particularly for larger projects and eliminate some of the initial uncertainty during feasibility studies. Residential systems might even be able to eliminate redundant disconnects which will save time and money.  For specific language, please refer to the Illinois Interconnection Docket.  Public workshops will be announced soon and we will share those dates.  

      Net Metering Compliance

       

      Although Illinois law requires all electric supplier to offer net metering, not all of the Alternate Retail Energy Suppliers (ARES) are in compliance.  The ICC has been working on resolution and will be hosting a public workshop for comments on new guidelines and requirements.  We hope you'll be able to attend and we'll let you know as soon as we hear. 

    • 24 Feb 2014 3:08 PM | Lucas Kappel (Administrator)

      Saving lives in Uganda using the power of the sun

      Shannon Fulton, ISEA Board President and Director of Illinois Business Development for StraightUp Solar, recently returned from SW Uganda where she served as a WE CARE Solar Ambassador training local health facility staff on the installation, use, and maintenance of the Solar Suitcase.  WE CARE stands for Women’s Emergency Communication and Reliable Electricity and provides an innovative solar solution in a little yellow suitcase of power called the Solar Suitcase, designed to provide lighting and enable communication to save the lives of mothers and babies during childbirth.   Click here for more information about the Solar Suitcase and WE CARE Solar. 

      WE CARE's recent project in SW Uganda is part of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) grant awarded by Grand Challenges Canada to support the Saving Lives and Birth (SLAB) initiative to improve maternal mortality outcomes in 4 districts in rural SW Uganda, specifically in the Districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Rukungiri, and Kanungu.  The project includes 105 health centers of various sizes and 147 solar suitcase systems.  Fulton's role as a Solar Suitcase Ambassador is to co-train with three other Ambassadors and Co-Founder Hal Aronson approximately 30 local health inspectors and cold chain technicians, teaching them to install, use, and maintain the Solar Suitcase systems.  The Solar Suitcase systems incorporated different components for this area of Uganda, including two 80 W modules and a 38Ah Victron battery to accomodate lower sun resource conditions than typically present at the equator, but that exist in SW Uganda due to the elevation and misty microclimate. 

      Following the two weeks of Solar Suitcase teaching and installation, the students are very well prepared to carry-out the remaining installations on their own and understand well how to teach health centers staff about the use and maintainance of the systems.  “My favorite part of the training is watching and listening to the students speak in their native language as they practice teaching about the Suitcase” says Fulton.  She is also proud that WE CARE recognizes technology transfer alone is not enough and reports “From the very beginning, health worker training of the type I am performing was an important focus of WE CARE Solar programs. Not only are installers and health center workers trained well to improve the health center conditions and ultimately reduce infant and mother mortality, but the children and community members are often at the same time receiving their very first electricity education.  How wonderful that their first experience with electricity is a solar-powered one!”


      Community leaders at one of the health centers accept the Solar Suitcase system as their own before WE CARE started construction.  This presentation to the community happened at the beginning of each intallation and in one case at a larger facility, the community erupted in song and dance!
       


      The children always appeared at every health center to watch and enjoy with excitement.  They were such fun!  One young beautiful grinning girl ran alongside our departing vehicle and shouted "You have loved us!"

       


      Our team for the installations in Kabale District.  Ugandans are such polite, patient, and loving people - full of life! Their engaging kindness and warmth effortlessly dissolves our communication and cultural boundaries.

       

       

      Please feel free to read Shannon's ISEA Facebook posts,which record her work in Uganda.
    • 24 Nov 2013 6:30 PM | Lesley McCain (Administrator)

      ISEA BOARD OF DIRECTOR POSITION DESCRIPTION,

      APPLICATION PROCESS AND ELECTION DETAILS

       

      ISEA BACKGROUND

      The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) is a 501-c-3 organization established on April 30, 1979. The ISEA currently has an eleven (11) member Board of Directors of whom four Directors serve as Officers - President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Officers are elected for one-year terms by the Board of Directors.

      ISEA MISSION

      The education and advocacy of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy to the people of Illinois.

       

      BOARD OF DIRECTORS' FUNCTION

      As representatives of the membership of ISEA, the Board of Directors (Board) is the primary force advancing ISEA's fulfillment of service to its membership, to ISEA as a single entity, and to the nonprofit community at large.


      DIRECTOR QUALIFICATIONS

      Directors bring a diversity of talents and capabilities to the ISEA, as well as a passion to materially fulfill its mission.


      ISEA is seeking Directors who represent various aspects of the solar, wind and other renewable energy fields, as well as individuals in potentially impacted industries, such as legal, finance, education, environment, real estate, and manufacturing.  Candidates should have innate leadership, management, and well- developed interpersonal skills, as well as patience and good humor, and be able to participate in and sustain collaborative group efforts.


      Election candidates must be ISEA members to be eligible for a Director position.  The Candidate can be an Individual, Senior/Student or Family Member or part of a Business Member category.  


      DIRECTOR'S ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES 


      ISEA Directors are expected to lend their knowledge, skills and abilities to assist ISEA executing its mission through fundraising, advocacy, education, marketing and related activities.  Fundraising, through direct or leveraged actions, is key to the continued growth and success of ISEA.


      The role of each Director is to serve a two-year term by leading, advising, and supporting the activities of ISEA.  Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

      • Attend all Board meetings prepared to further the success of ISEA and to support the ISEA’s mission and goals.
      • Monitor and mentor standing Committees as assigned and on an as-needed basis providing advice, encouragement and voice for the Committee to the Board.
      • Identify and nominate candidates for vacant Board positions.
      • Accept special assignments designated by the President.
      • Remain current on the activities of ISEA by following its publications (includes electronic, print and virtual), issues and interests.
      • Remain current on issues affecting the non-profit sector as it relates to the mission of the Association, its members and community at large.
      • Inform the Board and remain proactive to assist ISEA with supporting its members and enhancing its funding sources.
      • Act as a role model, change agent and professional exemplar.

      RESPONSIBILITIES BY CATEGORY

       

      1. Planning

      • Approve ISEA’s mission and review management (Board & ED) performance in achieving it. 
      • Annually review and approve the ISEA strategic plan and budget.

      2. Organization

      • Work with the Executive Director to create a strategic direction for the Association and to set short and long term goals.
      • Ensure management continuity is properly provided.
      • Approve appropriate compensation and benefit policies and practices.
      • Identify candidates and determine the eligibility of candidates for the nomination of officers and directors.
      • Actively participate in Board meetings and on Committee assignments.
      • Support sponsoring donor and community-building events as designated by the Board.
      • Identify potential funding sources and serve as an ambassador to secure organizational funding.
      • Annually evaluate the performance of staff and determine any bonus awards or increases in salary.
      • Be an active member of both ISEA and American Solar Energy Society (ASES).
      • Annually review the performance of the Board and take steps (including recommendation for its composition, organization, and responsibilities) to improve its performance.

      3. Operations

      • Review results achieved by management in comparison to ISEA’s mission, program plans, and strategic plan, as well as similar metrics for like organizations.
      • Ascertain that the financial structure of the ISEA is adequate for its current needs and the implementation of the strategic plan by approving an annual budget.
      • Provide advice, comments, and direction to the members of the Board and Executive Director.
      • Approve major actions of ISEA, such as capital expenditures on all projects over authorized limits and major changes in programs, services, office location, etc.
      • Review monthly and annual financial results for the organization and ensure, through the oversight of the Finance Committee, that reports are accurate and in accordance with accepted accounting principles.

      TIME COMMITMENT

      Board members serve a two-year term.  In-person BOD meetings occur monthly for two hours in the evening.  Members will be required to travel to in-person meetings and efforts will be made to hold meetings in an equally-agreeable location to limit travel as much as possible.  Conference call meetings are also occasionally hosted. Additional meetings (i.e committee, or special circumstance) may be scheduled with advance notice. 


      APPLICATION PROCESS

      There will be four Director positions for re-election for the 2014-16 term.  Candidates are requested to submit their candidacy announcement in an email to contactisea@illinoissolar.org to the attention of the ISEA President Shannon Fulton and Secretary David Brochu.  In the email response please state the candidate’s name, affiliation (if any) and contact information, as well as a statement (up to 100 words) of their candidacy.  Electronic submissions of candidacy to contactisea@illinoissolar.org will be accepted until 12 PM, local time on December 7, 2013.


      Candidates will also have the opportunity to announce their candidacy during the ISEA Member Meeting to take place on Saturday December 7, 2013, 10:00 AM; Chicago Center for Green Technology; 445 N. Sacramento Blvd, Chicago, IL 60612.  Such candidates may also wish to prepare a written statement of their candidacy so that ISEA may publish it for voters' benefit during the election. Nominations in person will be accepted until the close of the meeting.  

       

      ELECTION

      Voting will occur by electronic ballot and emailed on December 21, 2013 to all ISEA members in current good standing as of Dec. 10, 2013.  Responses will be due by 12 noon on December 31, 2013 in order to be counted.  Votes will be tallied, elected persons privately notified, and results publicized on the ISEA website prior to the January 2014 ISEA Board of Directors meeting.

    • 23 Aug 2013 2:20 PM | Lesley McCain (Administrator)

      ISEA is working hard to ensure that our members' interests are protected and promoted.  One of the many ways we are doing this is through the development of this new user-friendly website.

       

      Check out the business members' logos at the bottom of the home page.  Corporate and premier members' logos link directly the business website. Charter members' logos are linked to the member's profile. The business member search page has been cleaned up and all business members' logos have been added.

       

      We encourage all ISEA business members to update their profile pages.  As the industry continues to grow, so too does both ISEA membership  and visits to the website. We want to ensure that those who are considering doing business with you are encouraged to do so through a professional and informative profile.

       

      Stay tuned for updates on ISEA advocacy work, public presentations, professional education, new programs, events and workshops.

       

       ISEA is working for you!

       

    • 14 Dec 2012 12:16 PM | Lesley McCain (Administrator)

                    POLICY ACTION ALERT

      Public written comments on the DG Certification ruling (Docket 12-0213) are due on Monday December 17th 2012. 

      Please provide your written comments directly to the Illinois Commerce Commission.  It is imperative that you detail how this ruling will impact your business.

       In our interpretation, there are 3 basic issues with the statute: the definition of “install”, the definition of “qualified person” and the certifications that will be recognized and the fee structure.

      Please note, the process on how to provide comments is outlined below.

       1.      “Install” means to complete the on-premise electrical wiring and connections necessary to  interconnect 

                distributed generation facility with the electric utility’s distribution system            .

                 However the subsequent language of what it does not include creates confusion and ambuguity.

                 The  meaning of  “install” in this part specifically does not include:

      •·      Electrical wiring and connections to interconnect the distributed generation facility performed by utility workers on the electric utility's distribution system;

      •·      Electrical wiring and connections internal to the distribution facility performed by the manufacturer; or

      •·      Tasks not associated with the electrical interconnection of the distributed generation facility, including those relating to planning and project management performed by individuals such as an inspector, management planner, consultant, project designer, contractor or supervisor for the project.
       

      2.      The current DG Installer Certification requirements specify that only “Qualified Persons” may connect a

               solar PV array to the grid.  A “Qualified Person” is currently narrowly defined as:

       

      • An apprentice or journeyman electrician who has completed a United States Department of Labor Registered Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Program and received a certification of satisfactory completion; OR
      • Or a person who has satisfactorily completed at least twenty installations of DG technologies

       

      3.      Currently, the Application fee for certification is $3,000 with an annual re-certification report of $500.  

               Penalty for noncompliance is $6,000.

       

      The ISEA believes these rules will:

      •·      Impose unnecessary barriers on the growth of Illinois' solar and small wind industry;

      •·      Place burdensome financial requirements on small businesses; and

      •·      Displace highly trained individuals from employment.

       

      . Process:

      ·         Go to  www.icc.illinois.gov

      ·         Select Consumers tab

      ·         Click Comment on a Case

      ·         Select a case from list drop down menu box, enter P 12 0213, SELECT

      ·         In the comment section be sure to include “First Notice Comments”

       

       

      AN ADDITIONAL NOTE REGARDING THESE DRAFT RULES:

      The Illinois DCEO is required to run a small business impact study to determine how the DG certification ruling will affect solar businesses in Illinois.  As such, please also email a copy of your comments to Katy Khayyat at her email address below and copy Lesley.mccain@illinoissolar.org.

       

      Katy Khayyat

      Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

      Office of Regulatory Flexibility

      500 East Monroe Street, 5th Floor

      Springfield, IL 62701

      Email:  Katy.Khayyat@Illinois.gov

       

       

       

       

    • 06 Dec 2012 2:39 PM | Michelle Hickey
      POLICY ACTION ALERT

      It is imperative that anyone with a vested interest in the development of solar in Illinois participate in this Public Hearing regarding the certification of distributed generation installers.  This is your opportunity to voice your opinion on how these rules will affect your business and the growth of solar in Illinois.

      Monday, December 10th
      9:30 am

      2 Illinois Commerce Commission Locations

      Springfield
      Leland Building
      527 East Capitol Avenue

       Chicago
      160 N. LaSalle St, Suite C-800

      Anyone from the public may attend and comment.

      The current Distributed Generation Installer Certification rules (Docket 12-0213) specify that only “Qualified Persons” may connect a solar PV array to the grid.  A “Qualified Person” is defined as:

      • An apprentice or journeyman electrician who has completed a United States Department of Labor Registered Electrical Apprenticeship and Training Program and received a certification of satisfactory completion.
      • Or a person who has satisfactorily completed at least twenty installations of DG technologies

      The Application fee for certification is $3,000 with an annual recertification report of $500.  Penalty for noncompliance is $6,000.

      The ISEA believes these rules will:

      • Negatively impact solar industry growth
      • Place burdensome financial requirements onto small businesses
      • Displace highly trained individuals from employment

      Please RSVP to ISEA so we know who will be attending either the Springfield or Chicago meeting.

    • 14 Nov 2012 11:46 AM | Michelle Hickey

      People with renewable energy systems or considering installing one and those who live in communities that have or recently voted for Municipal Aggregation of their electricity will be faced with a term that can be confusing - Renewable Energy Certificates/Credits, often referred to as RECs.

      All energy production generates at least two outputs.  Traditional energy, coal and nuclear, generate electricity and pollution/waste.  Renewable energy systems, like solar arrays and wind turbines, generate two outputs as well – electricity and RECs.  The RECs are a mechanism developed by the EPA to encourage development of non polluting energy projects.  For every 1000 k Wh (1 MWh) of renewable energy produced, one REC is generated.

       

      RECs are tradable, marketable commodities that are sold to companies, states, cities, or other entities that have established a Renewable Energy Standard or other commitment to renewable energy.  If you travel, you may have seen an option to “green” your travel by purchasing these credits or you may live in a community that offers a “green” energy option for your electricity usage.

      The sale of RECs provides a revenue stream for solar and wind developers that contribute to the financial viability of a project.  Financing will often include a contract of 5-20 years for the RECs produced by the project.   REC pricing fluctuates due to supply and demand, but in areas where it is an effective mechanism to spur development, pricing is typically in the $100-$400 range.

      A project can sell RECs as long as it is operational, so a wind farm that was built 10 years ago can continue to sell the RECs it generates.  These RECs provide additional revenue to the project developer, but do not support NEW development and are often sold cheaply.   We are already enjoying the environmental benefits of this project and they have already received the revenue to finance, so rather than purchase these “cheap” RECs, consider purchasing RECs from a project that needs the additional revenue in order to be developed.

      Illinois has a Renewable Portfolio Standard to procure 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.  RECs are the mechanism by which the state achieves this percentage.   Unfortunately, Illinois does not have an in-state preference, which means they don’t have to purchase RECs from Illinois based solar and wind projects.  This hurts the Illinois economy by supporting renewable energy development in other states rather than in Illinois and prevents the reduction of environmental and health problems created by our continued reliance on fossil fuel based energy.

      So when purchasing RECs, buy Illinois and support new development!

    • 24 Sep 2012 10:49 AM | Michelle Hickey
      The Illinois DCEO Solar and Wind Energy Rebate Program is OPEN



      Photovoltaic (solar electric) incentives
      • $1.50/watt or 25% for homeowners and businesses
      • $2.60/watt or 40% for nonprofits and public entities

      Wind energy incentives
      • $1.70/watt or 30% of project cost for homeowners and businesses
      • $2.60/watt or 40% for non-profits and public entities

      Solar thermal incentives
      • 30% of project cost for homeowners and businesses
      • 40% of project cost for non-profits and public entities

      Maximum rebate for all solar and wind energy projects is $10,000

      DCEO has allocated a budget of $1.5 million to this program.  This budget is the same as the last few years.  Applications are considered on a first come, first serve basis.

      No grants will be offered during the 2013 Fiscal Year due to the $3.7 million appropriation to Illinois Green Economy Network which reduced DCEO's budget from $5 million to $1.3 million.

      DCEO had to work hard to ensure the Rebate Program stayed alive and had comparable funding to past years by adjusting budgets and eliminating the grants.
    • 11 Aug 2012 8:28 AM | Michelle Hickey
      The IL DCEO has announced that there WILL BE a SOLAR & WIND ENERGY REBATE PROGRAM for 2012.  It will have less money than 2011, but will still fund solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, and wind installations.

      GO SOLAR!

    • 27 Jul 2012 10:15 AM | Michelle Hickey
      Source:  DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)

      This update contains solicitations for renewable energy generation, renewable energy certificates, and green power as a courtesy to our subscribers. Unless otherwise noted, these requests for proposals and solicitations are neither supported nor endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Green Power Network.

      Deadline - August 15, 2012

      Western Area Power Administration (Western) RFP seeking up to 592,618 MWh of eligible renewable energy certificates (RECs) on behalf of various U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories and Environmental Protection Agency. Western is requesting firm, fixed, per-MWh unit price offers for each FY for the transfer of RECs on behalf of any or all of the REC Requestors for terms of each FY beginning FY 2012 through FY 2016.
      Contact: Sandee Peebles

      Deadline - August 31, 2012

      Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) RFP seeking a developer to finance, design, construct, install, operate, maintain, repair and replace new ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems on a minimum of thirty acres on airport property at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD). The CDA has identified seven potential sites for solar development on ORD property, totaling fifty-two acres. All questions are due July 27, 2012.
      Contact: ORDSOLARPV@cityofchicago.org

      A complete list of active RFPs can found on our Financial Opportunities page.
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