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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  • 19 Dec 2014 2:09 PM | Anonymous

     

     Learn about both the Illinois Regular and Special Renewable Energy Procurements. 

     

    Lisa Albrecht ISEA's Policy Committee Chair explains the difference between the procurements and how they will impact Illinois solar development in 2015. 

     

    2014-12-18 18.05 Illinois Solar Policy Update.wmv

     

  • 12 Nov 2014 2:35 PM | Anonymous

    As you know, the state legislature passed a measure to authorize the IPA to spend $30M of the Renewable Energy Resource Fund (RERF) for a special DG Solar Procurement.  The IPA held several public workshops and published a draft procurement plan, soliciting comments at each stage.  On October 28th, the IPA submitted the final version for ICC consideration and final rulings by the ICC are due January 26, 2015.  ISEA was pleased to see many of our recommendations incorporated in this latest version.  (Click here to access draft plans and all comments filed to the IPA and ICC.)  Please note that this procurement is being developed at the same time as the Regular Procurement Plan, discussed in previous blogs.  This is a separate process with different targets and goals.


    The final version of the Special Procurement Plan has been filed for consideration with the ICC.  Overall provisions include:


    • The IPA will hold a competitive procurement among aggregators offering 5 year contracts only for “new” Distributed Generation (DG). DG includes all systems <2,000kW and are installed behind the meter and less than 2 MW. Due to the “behind the meter” requirement, only Illinois systems will be eligible.
    • “New” means the system is energized on or after the approval of the plan (likely January 26, 2015).  Systems must be built within 1 year of the procurement with a potential 6 month contingency if project experiences delays. 
    • A standard capacity factor of 14.38% will be used in the bidding process to forecast the number of RECs per KW of installed solar.  For example, for bidding purposes, RECs for a 10kW system would be calculated:  (0.010MW x 14.38% x 8760 hours/year x 5 years = about 63 RECs.  Bidders would use this formula to convert bid system sizes(nameplate KW) into deliverable RECs. As all contracts will be for 5 years, RECs should be bid for the duration of the contract.
    • The procurement events will feature two bid categories – systems under 25 kW and systems over 25 kW. The IPA will strive to buy half of the RECs from each group.  Only projects in the <25kW system can include speculative projects.  Projects >25kW must be identified but not energized.  The IPA will create the ability to gather this information during the bid process.  
    • There will be 3 different procurements (see below) with a minimum bid amount of 500 RECs.  Bids will be accepted by aggregators or system owners as long as the minimums are met. Therefore larger commercial systems will be able to self-procure if so desired.
    •  Aggregators cannot exceed the maximum bid of 5,000 RECs for <25kW systems in any procurement periodAs stated previously, bids can be speculative in this portion of the Special Procurement.  However, speculative projects must be identified within 6 months (3 month contingency) of the procurement event.
    • All projects in the >25 category must be identified (i.e. site control, etc) in order to bid.
    • Aggregators can bid in a different REC price for each project, but not different REC prices within the project, and for commercial systems you have to bid all the RECs from the system.
    • Eligible systems must be installed by a Qualified Person. This definition differs slightly from the current ICC definition of “Qualified Person”.  Aggregators and/or projects will need to verify that the system was installed accordingly.  If not, the project will not be eligible to sell RECs.  (see definition below)  As this was defined specifically by the General Assembly in Section 1-56(i) the ISEA was unable to alter these terms
    • Systems must be registered with PJM GATS or MISO M-RETS where all RECs will be tracked and transferred.  All systems will be required to have a utility-grade meter as part of their installation.
    • Aggregators will be required to meet deposit requirements of $16/REC for speculative projects and $8/REC for identified projects.  Deposit adjustments will be made as speculative projects are identified.
    • Commercial projects can substitute projects if they meet the same criteria of the project that won the award.
    • Bidders might only win contracts for some of their projects.  Deposits will be adjusted accordingly.
    • There will be 3 procurement events with a possible 4th contingent upon need.  

    June 2015 –

    •  Procurement Budget:  $5 M
    • Maximum bid of 5,000 RECs for residential.
    • Bids for commercial but systems can’t be over 500 kW

    November 2015-

    • Procurement Budget:  $10 M
    • Maximum bid of 5,000 RECs for residential.
    • No maximum bid for commercial and systems can be up to 2 MW now 

    March 2016

    • Procurement Budget:  $15 M
    • Maximum bid of 5,000 RECs for residential.
    • No maximum bid for commercial and systems can be up to 2 MW now 

    January 2017-  Contingency for any remaining money.

     

    ISEA objected to the following issues in the final 2015 Special Procurement Plan:

    1. Systems between 25kW – 2,000 kW should be broken into smaller sub-categories to ensure that the financial incentives to develop varying sizes work appropriately.  ISEA recommended 25kW – 399kW and 400kW – 2,000 kW.  This has not been supported to date but ISEA provided evidence that mature REC markets have been making these adjustments based on development results.  This is a vast economic opportunity for system owners, developers and installers. 
    2. Systems <25kW should utilize a 3rd party administrator as opposed to a multipleaggregators which could cause a great deal of confusion for system owners. The easier this process is for homeowners and small business owners, the more likely they are to participate.  We do not want complex competition to cause market confusion and potential delays.
    3. Aggregator Credit Requirements should be reduced to:  $10/REC for speculative bids, $5/REC for identified projects to open the field of potential bidders for REC procurement.
    4. ICC DG Certified Installers list needs to include additional details so that it is transparent if an installer qualifies for the Special Procurement.   NOTE:  This is an important distinction that all solar installers should investigate further and take the necessary steps to ensure they will qualify under the new guidelines.  This requirement is limited to just RECs from the Special Procurement and does not impact systems that do not seek to sell their RECs or for systems that intend to participate in the Regular Procurement.


     Qualified Person – definition per Section 156(i)(1)    

    For the purposes of this paragraph (1), "qualified


    person" means a person who performs installations of photovoltaics, including, but not limited to, distributed photovoltaic generation, and who: (A) has completed an apprenticeship as a journeyman electrician from a United States Department of Labor registered electrical apprenticeship and training program and received a certification of satisfactory completion; or (B) does not currently meet the criteria under clause (A) of this paragraph (1), but is enrolled in a United States Department of Labor registered electrical apprenticeship program, provided that the person is directly supervised by a person who meets the criteria under clause (A) of this paragraph (1); or (C) has obtained one of the following credentials in addition to attesting to satisfactory completion of at least 5 years or 8,000 hours of documented hands-on electrical experience: (i) a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Installer Certificate for Solar PV; (ii) an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) PV Systems Installer Certificate; (iii) an Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETAI) Level 3 PV Installer Certificate; or (iv) an Associate in Applied Science degree from an Illinois Community College Board approved community college program in renewable energy or a distributed generation technology.

    For the purposes of this paragraph (1), "directly


    supervised" means that there is a qualified person who meets the qualifications under clause (A) of this paragraph (1) and who is available for supervision and consultation regarding the work performed by persons under clause (B) of this paragraph (1), including a final inspection of the installation work that has been directly supervised to ensure safety and conformity with applicable codes.

    For the purposes of this paragraph (1), "install"


    means the major activities and actions required to connect, in accordance with applicable building and electrical codes, the conductors, connectors, and all associated fittings, devices, power outlets, or apparatuses mounted at the premises that are directly involved in delivering energy to the premises' electrical wiring from the photovoltaics, including, but not limited to, to distributed photovoltaic generation.

     

     

    Objections can be found on the ICC website. The ISEA intends to file Responses to the Objections (due 11/20) and likely Replies to the Responses (due 12/2)


  • 23 Oct 2014 4:15 PM | Anonymous

    by Lisa Albrecht, ISEA Policy Co-Chair


    A lot has been happening since the last Blog!


    Many may not realize but there are currently two separate procurement plans in the works to purchase Renewable Energy Credits in 2015; the Special Procurement which we’ve discussed in previous posts, and the Regular Procurement which is part of the standard annual energy procurement the IPA hosts on behalf of the utilities.   Both plans are still in draft form and we are working hard to try to negotiate a solution that will best serve all aspects of the solar industry.


    I’ve detailed both the Regular and Special Procurements below but also wanted to explain the process each procurement goes through legally.  The ISEA has participated in each of the following steps:

    1. The IPA holds public workshops when writing a new procurement plan.
    2. This input is used to create a Draft Plan which is published for public comment.
    3. The public has 14 days to submit informal comments on possible changes.
    4. Once received, the IPA then has 14 days to revise before submitting the final Plan to the ICC.
    5. Fortunately it doesn’t end there and interested parties have a chance to file legal “Objections” within 5 days.  These are filed by an attorney directly with the ICC and posted on the ICC website.
    6. Entities have the opportunity to submit “Responses to Objections” filed, either in agreement or opposition, and make a detailed case for their response. These are due within 10 days.
    7. There is one final opportunity to file “Responses to the Responses to the Objections” over the next 10 days.
    8. At that stage the comment period ends.  The ICC takes all of these comments under advisement and must either confirm or modify the plan 90 days after it was filed by the IPA.

    All of this is VERY CONFUSING so we will be hosting a webinar soon to go over the details. For perspective, it helps to understand there are 3 buckets of funding (remember when we were working on the RPS Fix?) 

    1. The Renewable Resource Budget (RRB) – the public utilities calculate their required %’s from fixed rate customers.
    2. The Hourly Alternate Compliance (ACP) Budget – the public utilities calculate their required $’s from hourly rate customers
    3. The Renewable Energy Resource Fund (RERF) – the Alternate Retail Energy Suppliers required offset. 

    The Regular Procurement will be spending funds from the RRB and the Hourly ACP budgets.  This is ComEd and Ameren’s portion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard.  The Special Procurement will be spending funds from the RERF budget.


    We encourage you to look at the proposed plans but here’s a quick snap shot of where we are at this point.  Please keep in mind that both Plan’s are still in draft mode and the ICC will make final determinations in about 90 days. 


    Regular Procurement – this is the furthest along in process above and on 10/31 ISEA will be submitting our “Response to the Responses to the Objections”.  From there we wait until 12/29 to see what the ICC finalizes.   The utilities will enter into contracts to purchase RECs from Aggregators.  There will be 2 procurements to purchase credits from existing and new systems under contract:

    1. April 2015:  The utilities will purchase about $13m from the RRB for single-year RECs.  These will likely be existing systems that have unsold RECs and will likely be utility scale or out of state RECs. ISEA has objected.
    2. September 2015: The utilities will purchase about $15m of the Hourly ACP) funding.
      1. The goal is to purchase half of the RECs from >25 kW systems and half from < 25 kW systems. This is half the REC’s not half the budget but until there is pricing we won’t know the quantity.
      2. No speculative bidding will be allowed and only specifically identified systems will be accepted in bids. Unbuilt systems have until June 2016 to be completed. 
      3. Contracts will be for 5 years.  They will not be prepaid in a lump sum.
      4. Aggregators are required to submit a Minimum bid of 1 MW of bundled capacity. Bidders can combine projects from >25 kW projects and <25 kW projects to meet the 1 MW threshold.
      5. Aggregators will be required to submit a non-refundable $500 bid fee.  They will also provide a $10/REC refundable credit deposit based on the # of RECs bid. 
      6. The contracts will be between utilities and aggregators.  System owners can self-aggregate if they meet the 1 MW minimum threshold. Otherwise an aggregator is just a third party – solar company, REC aggregator, municipality, non-profit – whoever has contractual rights to sell the RECs.

    Special Procurement – the IPA will be submitting their final Plan to the ICC on Monday 10/28.  I hesitate to list details as we are hoping for significant edits but do so because we’ve received several questions and concerns.  Again, I encourage folks to read the plan which is hot linked above.  The draft plan suggested:  


    General Provisions:

    • All bids must be for systems <2,000kW (Distributed Generation or DG systems). DG RECs as defined by Illinois statute mean they must be interconnected in Illinois, behind the meter, and used primarily to offset the customer’s usage.
    • All projects must be “new” as defined by the date of each of the procurements (see below). No existing systems will be able to participate.  ISEA has strongly objected to the definition of the term “new”, arguing that “new” should be systems installed on or after the date the Governor signed the bill into law.
    • No speculative bidding from large systems, ever. Bidders will need proof of viability of large systems, though the exact details aren’t spelled out.
    • All systems must be installed by a “qualified person” which is not part of the regular procurement.  The General Assembly included wording that restricts the state definition of “qualified person” and we cannot change it.  Systems built by installers who used “5 installed systems” as their qualification will be excluded from participating in the Special Procurement. 
    • Basically a bid will be for 1 REC/year/kW. So a 5 kW system will bid 25 RECs for the entire 5-year period and a 2 MW system = 10,000 RECs. 
    • The winning bidders will invoice the IPA quarterly and payment will be made after the RECs are delivered (i.e. no pre-payment).
    • Bidders will have to provide $25/REC deposits for speculative RECs and $10/REC deposits for identified systems. This translates into $125/kW for speculative bids or $50/kW for identified projects.
    • Aggregators are not necessary but allowed:
      • System owners can participate directly as long as they meet credit and minimum bid requirements (500kW).
      • Anyone can be an aggregator as long as they have the right to sell the RECs from projects, meet credit requirements, and meet minimum bid requirements. You will need to pre-qualify.
    • There will be 3 procurement events with a 4th if needed:

    June 2015$5 million

    • System is energized on or after June 2015 procurement date
    • Under 25 kW systems: minimum bid of 500 RECs (20 5 kW systems) and a maximum bid of 5,000 RECs (200 5 kW systems)
    • Over 25 kW systems: minimum bid of 500 RECs (4 25 kW systems) and a maximum systems size of 500 kW, meaning a maximum per-project bid of 2,500 RECs.

    November 2015$10 million

    • System is energized on or after June 2015 procurement date.
    • 500 REC minimum bid, no maximum system size.

    March 2016$15 million

    • System is energized on or after November 2015 procurement date.
    • 500 REC minimum bid, no maximum system size.

    Early 2017contingency

  • 12 Aug 2014 3:15 PM | Anonymous

    by Lisa Albrecht, ISEA Policy Co-Chair


    Thursday August 7th the Illinois Power Agency hosted a second public workshop to discuss the execution of HB 2427, the one-time procurement for $30million in Solar Renewable Energy Credits. The agenda and supporting documents can be found on the IPA web page. About 70 people participated in the discussions and seemed to represent a vast group of stakeholders including both local and national installers (primarily residential but also some commercial), home owners, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Elevate Energy, CUB, utilities (including ComEd, Ameren, a few ARES), the Metropolitan Mayor Caucus, Wind on the Wire and several wind developers, Wanxiang and many others.


    Kicking the meeting off, Anthony Star reviewed the legislative language which broadly discusses time frames, $30m cap, 50% of the procurement must be systems <25kW, contract durations for a minimum of 5 years, credit requirements for participants and finally the broad use of aggregators. The language of the bill was intentionally left relatively loose, allowing the IPA some latitude to create a program based on industry and public input. In many respects, Illinois is fortunate that we can have a “test run” of a REC program which can help when crafting a more permanent solution.


    Next NERA, the IPA regular procurement administrator, presented on trends and lessons learned in other state procurement focusing primarily on NJ, CT and DE. These states have many similarities to Illinois and the intent is to learn from their experiences while putting the IL program guidelines together. 


    The final presentation was a review of the consolidated responses to the survey the IPA put out in July soliciting public comment and feedback. All individual responses including those submitted by The Illinois Solar Energy Association can be found on the IPA website. 


    The remainder of the meeting was focused on discussing the broader issues to be tackled and defined. These comments will be taken under advisement by the IPA over the next 90 days as they develop a draft procurement plan. Much of this conversation was very similar to the June 12th workshop but additional points were discussed in detail. No decisions or preferences have been expressed officially at this time but it is clearly obvious that the IPA is eager to create something based strongly by market interest. 

    1) Product Categories, System Type, Ownership Structure, Date of Installation

    2) The Role and structure of Aggregators

    3) REC Pricing, Declining Blocks, Rate Caps

    4) Contract terms, Contract for differences, Flat Payments versus Annual


    The IPA will publish the draft procurement plan by September 29th, followed by a public comment period through October 14th. The ISEA would love your input so please feel free to comment here on the blog to continue the conversation.

    Thursday August 7th the Illinois Power Agency hosted a second public workshop to discuss the execution of HB 2427, the one-time procurement for $30million in Solar Renewable Energy Credits.  The agenda and supporting documents can be found on the IPA web page.  About 70 people participated in the discussions and seemed to represent a vast group of stakeholders including both local and national installers (primarily residential but also some commercial), home owners, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Elevate Energy, CUB, utilities (including ComEd, Ameren, a few ARES), the Metropolitan Mayor Caucus, Wind on the Wire and several wind developers, Wanxiang and many others.

    Kicking the meeting off, Anthony Star reviewed the legislative language which broadly discusses time frames, $30m cap, 50% of the procurement must be systems <25kW, contract durations for a minimum of 5 years, credit requirements for participants and finally the broad use of aggregators.   The language of the bill was intentionally left relatively loose, allowing the IPA some latitude to create a program based on industry and public input.  In many respects, Illinois is fortunate that we can have a “test run” of a REC program which can help when crafting a more permanent solution.

    Next NERA, the IPA regular procurement administrator, presented on trends and lessons learned in other state procurement focusing primarily on NJ, CT and DE.  These states have many similarities to Illinois and the intent is to learn from their experiences while putting the IL program guidelines together.

    The final presentation was a review of the consolidated responses to the survey the IPA put out in July soliciting public comment and feedback.  All individual responses including those submitted by The Illinois Solar Energy Association can be found on the IPA website.

    The remainder of the meeting was focused on discussing the broader issues to be tackled and defined.  These comments will be taken under advisement by the IPA over the next 90 days as they develop a draft procurement plan.  Much of this conversation was very similar to the June 12th workshop but additional points were discussed in detail.  No decisions or preferences have been expressed officially at this time but it is clearly obvious that the IPA is eager to create something based strongly by market interest. 

    • 1)     Product Categories, System Type, Ownership Structure, Date of Installation
    • 2)     The Role and structure of Aggregators
    • 3)     REC Pricing, Declining Blocks, Rate Caps
    • 4)     Contract terms, Contract for differences, Flat Payments versus Annual

    The IPA will publish the draft procurement plan by September 29th, followed by a public comment period through October 14th.  The ISEA would love your input so please feel free to comment here on the blog to continue the conversation.

    Thursday August 7th the Illinois Power Agency hosted a second public workshop to discuss the execution of HB 2427, the one-time procurement for $30million in Solar Renewable Energy Credits.  The agenda and supporting documents can be found on the IPA web page.  About 70 people participated in the discussions and seemed to represent a vast group of stakeholders including both local and national installers (primarily residential but also some commercial), home owners, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Elevate Energy, CUB, utilities (including ComEd, Ameren, a few ARES), the Metropolitan Mayor Caucus, Wind on the Wire and several wind developers, Wanxiang and many others.

    Kicking the meeting off, Anthony Star reviewed the legislative language which broadly discusses time frames, $30m cap, 50% of the procurement must be systems <25kW, contract durations for a minimum of 5 years, credit requirements for participants and finally the broad use of aggregators.   The language of the bill was intentionally left relatively loose, allowing the IPA some latitude to create a program based on industry and public input.  In many respects, Illinois is fortunate that we can have a “test run” of a REC program which can help when crafting a more permanent solution.

    Next NERA, the IPA regular procurement administrator, presented on trends and lessons learned in other state procurement focusing primarily on NJ, CT and DE.  These states have many similarities to Illinois and the intent is to learn from their experiences while putting the IL program guidelines together.

    The final presentation was a review of the consolidated responses to the survey the IPA put out in July soliciting public comment and feedback.  All individual responses including those submitted by The Illinois Solar Energy Association can be found on the IPA website.

    The remainder of the meeting was focused on discussing the broader issues to be tackled and defined.  These comments will be taken under advisement by the IPA over the next 90 days as they develop a draft procurement plan.  Much of this conversation was very similar to the June 12th workshop but additional points were discussed in detail.  No decisions or preferences have been expressed officially at this time but it is clearly obvious that the IPA is eager to create something based strongly by market interest. 

    • 1)     Product Categories, System Type, Ownership Structure, Date of Installation
    • 2)     The Role and structure of Aggregators
    • 3)     REC Pricing, Declining Blocks, Rate Caps
    • 4)     Contract terms, Contract for differences, Flat Payments versus Annual

    The IPA will publish the draft procurement plan by September 29th, followed by a public comment period through October 14th.  The ISEA would love your input so please feel free to comment here on the blog to continue the conversation.

  • 25 Jul 2014 1:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Shannon Weigel, ISEA Board Member


    Saturday, June 28th, Governor Quinn signed House Bill 2427 authorizing the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to direct a one-time $30 million procurement of RECs.

    In anticipation of the Governor’s signature, the IPA held a preliminary stakeholder workshop on  June 12th, to discuss the program design for implementing the Supplemental PV Procurement Plan. Many questions were raised about the role of aggregators, treatment of new vs. existing systems, need for credit requirements, contract terms and overall procurement process. The IPA solicited written comments, which were due on Monday, July 21st. and can be found on the IPA website (http://www2.illinois.gov/ipa/Pages/Plans_Under_Development.aspx). The program design is officially underway at this stage and will evolve through a series of public workshops and program drafts from the IPA before being submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) later this year.

    ISEA submitted comments with the over-arching theme to keep the one-time procurement simple and transparent to ensure success and create consumer and legislative confidence with the aim of demonstrating a working, long-term solution for the RPS program.

    ISEA recommends creating 3 subcategories for the procurement. The first subcategory would be for large commercial projects between 400 kW – 2 MW. Although the ISEA comments did not officially comment on pricing techniques, it has been recommended by others that the  procurement process for this subcategory should be a competitive bid process for a 5 year contract for RECs. The payment would be a performance-based incentive (paid out for 5 years based on system production). 

    The second subcategory would be for commercial systems between 25 kW – 399 kW. ISEA recommends flexibility be allowed with regards to payment type (upfront payment or PBI) and that system owners could chose the payment terms.

    The third subcategory would be for systems < 25 kW, typically residential projects. The < 25 kW procurement would be set up like a Declining MW Block program. The declining block structure allocates specific capacities and provides incentives, which decline according the amount of PV deployed based on the capacity targets. The IPA would determine the money available for each block and the corresponding SREC price. The system owner would receive upfront payments when the system is energized. Half of the recs procured will from systems smaller than 25 kW.

    ISEA suggests that the IPA hire a Third Party Administrator to handle the procurement, contract execution and other administrative functions.

    ISEA also recommends that eligible systems be required to be completed no later than 12 months after the date of the SREC contract. Applicants can apply for a 6 month extension, which would be reviewed by the IPA or Third Party Administrator. Eligible projects that are not initially selected should be placed on a waiting list.

    With regards to new vs. existing systems, ISEA recommends that existing systems be defined as those that were energized between July 1, 2013- June 30, 2014. New systems should be defined as those that were energized after July 1, 2014. It is important that “new” be related to the passage of HB 2427 as opposed to the final definition of both process and terms by the IPA. Existing systems in the < 25 kW category would be priced below the lowest “declining block” as the value to the industry is the lowest having already been built.

    Next Steps:

    The IPA is hosting a public workshop on August 7th, 2014 from 10am-3pm. Please plan to participate as stakeholder input is important.

    The IPA will release the draft plan on September 29th and public comments will be due on October 14th. The IPA will revise the draft plan and submit the revised plan with the Illinois Commerce Commission by October 28th. The ICC has a deadline of January 26th, 2015 to approve the IPA’s plan.

  • 26 Jun 2014 6:25 PM | Lisa Albrecht (Administrator)

    Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS):  It is official!!  The State of Illinois has authorized a one-time $30 million procurement of Solar Renewable Energy Credits.  Additional funds may also be released for separate wind/solar procurement if the IPA determines that it must procure conventional electricity on behalf of Ameren.  Although that will be a separate fund and process, these strategic steps could have an influence on the solar procurement as well.


    On June 12th the Illinois Power Agency held the first of a series of planning sessions, seeking public input to the structure and delivery of this program. The legislation included language allowing for various segments of the market (systems greater than 2MW and those under 2MW with subgroups under 25kW as well).  This approach will ensure a robust market place, driving the greatest amount of solar development as well as jobs and economic development in various solar segments.  It will be up to the IPA to determine the specifics of each of these aspects and future workshops will dive deeper into defining terms and guidelines including pricing/adders for utility/large/small systems, NEW versus OLD systems, eligibility dates for generated power, registration processes, deposit/credit requirements if any, the need/no need for aggregators, possible prepayment options, contract terms, performance guarantees as well as many other fine points.


    Procedurally there will be several more steps in defining this program.  Once the governor has signed the bill (expected in the next 25 days) the official 90 day workshop period will begin. Upon completion the IPA will then have 14 days to put official guidelines together which are then available for public comment.  At that point the Illinois Commerce Commission will have 90 days to review before proposing official language and sending to the Joint Commission for Administrative Rules for finalization.  All totaled it is likely the process could run through Feb/April 2015 and the procurement would be executed immediately after. The goal is to actually procure REC’s and enter into contracts before the end of the 2015 fiscal year but it could stretch beyond that date.


    Please watch for future workshops and plan to participate as input from all stakeholders will be important!


    Note that this one-time fix isn’t the end!  We will continue to work with many state and national organizations for a permanent fix to the RPS.  Strategic sessions will begin later this summer and work will begin immediately to ensure passage next spring. If you can, please let your legislators know this is important to you and keep telling them! More information will be available as these strategic sessions evolve but we will need everyone’s shoulder on the wheel in order to succeed in Springfield in 2015!


    Net Metering:  As you may know, most energy players in Illinois are not compliant with the Net Metering laws. The ICC has been accepting public comments to draft rule changes issued May 13th.  Brad Klein of The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) has been leading the charge on making the necessary legal corrections and ISEA has been working to assist them.  These official responses are available on the ICC website<http://www.icc.illinois.gov/electricity/NetMetering.aspx>.  


    Various entities formally introduced their comments to Commission Staff which was then discussed amongst other participants.  These discussions included the need for increased education among both the ARES organizations as well as end consumers, increased customer support for net metering applicants, a more streamlined process for customers switching between suppliers and the need for language clarification within the existing statute to ensure identical rates are applied to net metering customers among other things.

    There were few points of opposition until the end of the call when ComEd expressed very strong objections to net metering in general describing this policy an illegal subsidy.  The ELPC reminded ComEd that the point of this rule making was not to undue net metering but to firm up the existing regulatory process with the aim of improving customer processes and the fair execution across the state. Not exactly sure if this is a warning of contentious times ahead but we should be diligent and prepared to publicly address and defend the value of solar to the market place if necessary.  We may be gearing up for stronger battles ahead and will need a tremendous amount of support from all solar businesses, customers and supporters!


    Interconnection:  The final of 3 scheduled public workshops on interconnection was held on June 12th regarding the connection process with the utility.  IREC has been driving these negotiations along with the ELPC and revised drafts from the ICC staff should be publicly available soon.   These rules have been pretty good to date but are becoming dated as the energy sector changes.  ISEA has been participating in this legal process and as Illinois works to have one of the most up to date processes for interconnection with a utility in the country.  Once the ICC issues new guidelines they will have another 14 day public comment period. Please watch ISEA newsletters for that announcement.

  • 03 Jun 2014 2:08 PM | Lesley McCain (Administrator)

    US EPA releases draft proposal to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants: On Monday June 2nd, President Obama announced bold new goals that will cut power plant emissions 30% by 2030. This is incredibly exciting and we will be digging in to better understand the implications for solar. Individual states will be given the responsibility for developing a compliance strategy, so it is imperative that we all stay engaged and participate in this process in order to ensure that we are positioned for the greatest deployment and impact on our clean energy future!

     

    Saturday May 31 marked the end of the legislative year and a lot happened the final week of legislation.  Here’s  the rundown. 

    SB103/HB2864 [RPS Fix]:  The Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) has not been working as originally intended and procurements for solar and wind projects have been on hold for the past two years.  A permanent RPS fix has been tabled until 2015 given the complex shifts occurring with Exelon and power in Illinois.

    ISEA and our partners will continue to work to get this vital legislation back on track in order to achieve the 25% clean energy goal by 2025. This conversation starts NOW, not next spring so please roll up your sleeves and let legislators know how vital this fix is to you and why.  ISEA will be sending out periodic reminders and specific requests over the next 9 months to keep this conversation alive and a top priority for the state! Please let us know if you need specific support at an event with your legislators.

     

    HB2472 [Renewable Energy Resource Fund]: in lieu of a permanent RPS fix, the legislature has authorized the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to hold a one-time supplemental procurement of $30 million in solar energy beginning Spring 2015! This funds SRECs purchases. The details  will be worked out during public workshops which will begin on June 12th.  All are invited to participate to be ensure this program is well designed.  Please watch your inbox for details. If you tried to participate in RECAP but did not get in – this is your path toward a sustainable, sizeable solution!  

     

     ISEA ‘s goals for this short term solution are:
    • Be a combination of New/Existing projects, Utility Scale/DG, Residential/Commercial
    • Allocate 50% of the DG portion of the fund to systems <25Kw
    • Provide contracts for a minimum 5 year period, possibly longer
    • Authorized aggregators to broker between system owners and the state.  The thresholds for this first round may differ from the full RPS strategy as it is a special procurement.
    • Bring a solid REC price at public auction. If you were unable to get into to the RECAP program – Please participate in this process to ensure a strong clean energy future in Illinois.

    This special procurement is an exciting first step and, although not everything that we may have wanted, a HUGE win for solar in Illinois!  Thanks to all who supported the RPS fix as this would not have been possible without all of your hard work!


     

  • 19 May 2014 1:12 PM | Anonymous
    Via Lisa Albrecht:

    If you have not seen it, please read the Crain’s article announcing that the RPS is off the table for this legislative session.  Unfortunately this appears to be true as the legislature has concerns about future Exelon nuclear plant closures.  This is quite frustrating as Exelon has been quoted in the press as not wanting government subsidies and the RPS fix had tremendous support from many commercial, professional, environmental and grassroots organizations across the state as well as both chambers in Springfield. According to the Crain's article, one of the reasons for the closures is the claim that wind subsidies make it impossible for nuclear power to be cost competitive.  It is certainly very disappointing and frustrating but this is not the end.

     

    As the article mentions, there is potential for a solar procurement for 2015 through the RPS program.  Since the IPA has not been able to spend the Renewable Energy Resources Fund (RERF), there is an opportunity to allocate the fund toward a solar-only procurement.  We will share the updates this week as final details and amounts are being worked out.  Specifically we realize all will want to know how this will work as it pertains to existing/new solar projects and the amount of funding which is thought to be between $20million and $72million. It is pretty clear that the RPS will not be able to fund wind projects but we are still determining the possibilities for solar including DG projects.

     

    Hope this provides a little insight and hope into a bleak article.  More details will continue to evolved as this unfolds. 

  • 06 May 2014 4:51 PM | Lesley McCain (Administrator)

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


    Many thanks to the energetic and passionate attendees who came out in full force.  Everyone did an amazing job educating lawmakers and advocating for the RPS.

     

     
       

    By the Numbers:
    •         63 Registrations (a 4x increase over 2012!)
    •         11 Teams representing businesses and homes across the state
    •         8 Senators/Representatives agreed to co-sponsor legislation immediately
    •         15 additional lawmakers agreed to seriously consider co-sponsorship
    •         Re-motivated bill champions to continue to push the bill to be called to vote this session
    •         60+ face to face conversations with law makers
    •         30+ materials dropped off for those we missed
     
         
                    Dueling Energy Futures as seen at Solar Lobby Day

     

     

    Solar enthusiasts and supporters attended the ISEA Legislative Solar Social the evening prior to Lobby Day at Maldaner’s Restaurant.  Seven State legislators attended, including Senate President John Cullerton, many of the legislators took the opportunity to tour the solar array on the roof of Maldaner’s Restaurant.


     

     THANK YOU TO OUR SOLAR LOBBY DAY SOCIAL SPONSORS!

     

  • 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. 

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