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. 

  • 29 Feb 2012 9:32 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Community Energy, a leading national wind and solar energy marketer, is seeking energetic self-starters with a passion for promoting clean energy in and around the Chicagoland area.  Promote clean, homegrown renewable energy and make a difference by signing up new residential customers for the 100% Illinois Wind and Solar Option.  This is a community-oriented, grassroots effort and lots of fun.

    Click here to read full job description

  • 21 Feb 2012 9:56 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Public Act 097-0616_Senate Bill 1652 (page 9 line 19) stipulates that at least .5% of the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2013 shall come from distributed renewable energy generation, .75% by 2014, and 1% by 2015.  Half of the distributed generation requirement shall come from systems 25 kW or smaller.  Table illustrating the Illinois RPS and the percentage to come from Distributed Generation.

    The Illinois Power Authority (IPA) is hosting workshops to assist with the development of a distributed generation renewable resource procurement plan for 2013. 

    Please take the time to attend the workshop in person to show that there is a solar and small wind community in Illinois that will be greatly impacted by the results of this workshop process.  It is important to voice your comments for the record.

    Friday, February 24, 2012
    1:00 - 4:00 PM
    Room N-502

    Michael A. Bilandic Building
    160 N. LaSalle Street
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (allow time to go through building security)

    Dial-in information:
    (877) 402-9757
    Access Code  9525407


    In the first meeting the IPA would like to ensure that participants are all fully informed of the necessary criteria for the program and to start the discussion.  In a second meeting participants will be welcome to present suggestions for how to deal with open items.  A third meeting, if necessary, will serve as a summary meeting.
     
    Please indicate your attendance plans by emailing arlene.juracek@illinois.gov

  • 21 Feb 2012 9:27 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Authored by PACENow.org

    Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a bipartisan local government initiative that allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings.

    Interested property owners opt‐in to receive financing for improvements that is repaid through an assessment on their property taxes for up to 20 years.  PACE financing spreads the cost of energy improvements such as weather sealing, insulation, energy efficient boilers and cooling systems, new windows, and solar installations over the expected life of the measures and allows for the repayment obligation to transfer automatically to the next property owner if the property is sold. 

    PACE is unique because it:
    • Creates badly needed local jobs.
    • Uses private capital, not taxes or government subsidies.
    • Saves money for building owners and increases property values.
    • Is voluntary – not a government mandate.
    • Promotes energy security without driving up energy costs.
    • Avoids the need to build costly new power plants.
    • Reduces air pollution.

    PACE programs were up and running in several states with 27 others passing enabling legislation, but then the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) issued a July 6, 2010 statement prohibiting Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other governmental sponsored enterprises that it regulates from buying residential mortgages with PACE assessments.

    The United States District Court in Oakland, CA found that FHFA violated the Federal Administrative Procedures ACT when it issued its statement.  FHFA Rulemaking is underway with a 60 day Comment Period beginning January 26, 2012 to March 26, 2012.


    To learn more about this topic and how to make a comment,
    click here to go to PACENow.

    Read about
    Babylon's Long Island Green Homes PACE Program.

    Additional Resources



  • 07 Feb 2012 10:31 AM | Michelle Hickey
    ScienceDaily (Feb. 1, 2012)
    Consistent appraisals of homes and businesses outfitted with photovoltaic (PV) installations are a real challenge for the nation's real estate industry, but a new tool developed by Sandia National Laboratories and Solar Power Electric™ and licensed by Sandia addresses that issue. Sandia scientists, in partnership with Jamie Johnson of Solar Power Electric™, have developed PV Value, an electronic form to standardize appraisals. Funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the tool will provide appraisers, real estate agents and mortgage underwriters with more accurate values for PV systems.

    "Previous methods for appraising PV installations on new or existing construction have been challenging because they were not using standard appraisal practices," said Geoff Klise, the Sandia researcher who co-developed the tool. "Typically, appraisers develop the value of a property improvement based on comparable properties with similar improvements as well as prevailing market conditions. If there aren't PV systems nearby, there is no way to make an improvement comparison. When a PV system is undervalued or not valued at all, it essentially ignores the value of the electricity being produced and the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. By developing a standard methodology for appraisers when comparables are not available, homeowners will have more incentive to install PV systems, even if they consider moving a few years after system installation."

    The tool uses an Excel spreadsheet, tied to real-time lending information and market fluctuations, to determine the worth of a PV system. An appraiser enters such variables as the ZIP code where the system is located, the system size in watts, the derate factor -- which takes into account shading and other factors that affect a system's output -- tracking, tilt and azimuth, along with a few other factors, and the spreadsheet returns the value of the system as a function of a pre-determined risk spread. The solar resource calculation in the spreadsheet is based on the PVWatts™ simulator developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which allows the spreadsheet to value a PV system anywhere in the U.S.

    "With PV Value™, appraisers can quickly calculate the present value of energy that a PV system can be estimated to produce during its remaining useful lifetime, similar to the appraisal industry's income approach," said Johnson. "Additionally, a property owner thinking about installing PV can now estimate the remaining present value of energy for their future PV system and what it could be worth to a purchaser of their property at any point in time in the event a sale of the property takes place before the estimated payback date is reached."

    The tool is being embraced by the Appraisal Institute, which is the nation's largest professional association of real estate appraisers. "From my perspective as an appraiser, I see that this is a great tool to assist the appraiser in valuations, and it connects to the Appraisal Institute's recent Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. It's an easy, user-friendly spreadsheet that will not bog the appraiser down with a lot of extra time in calculations, and if they fill out the addenda properly, they'll be able to make the inputs and come up with some numbers fairly quickly," said Sandy Adomatis, SRA, a real estate appraiser and member of the Appraisal Institute.

    Although the tool is licensed for solar PV installations, it could be used for other large green features in a home that generate income, such as wind turbines. The spreadsheet, user manual and webinar explaining the tool are available for download at http://pv.sandia.gov/pvvalue.

    Solar Power Electric™ located in Port Charlotte, Fla., is an electrical contracting and solar integration company specializing in the installation of commercial and residential photovoltaic systems.
  • 01 Feb 2012 3:54 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Job Location: Chicago

    Founded in 2008, this solar developer focuses on commercial solar projects between 200KW – 5MW+. This position is based in Chicago. They have secured strategic investors from some of the largest organizations in the country (including retail, health care, and real estate companies), and are bracing for an additional surge in commercial scale project installations.

    This company has developed a proprietary, non-penetrating roof mount system which gives them an advantage over the competition regarding the logistics of installing a solar system.  Quicker & easier installations = a winning competitive formula.

    This is a progressive company that seeks fast thinkers with an independent attitude and an entrepreneurial mindset. If you want to get your foot in the door of the solar industry, this is a great place to start. We are currently seeking a System’s Engineer for our Chicago office in a full-time employment position, for immediate hire.

    Responsibilities:
    • Create detailed electrical designs of PV systems and layouts.
    • Maintenance and monitoring of our existing 70+ commercial PV installations
    • Create drawings for bid documents, construction plans and permit packages
    • Partner with sales team to generate initial designs for proposals and assist the procurement process
    • Ensure that all designs are code-compliant (NEC Code)
    • Development of one-line documents for commercial solar projects
     
     Qualifications:
    • Bachelor degree in Engineering: Electrical or Mechanical preferred
    • Significant Experience with AutoCAD
    • The ability to read/interpret construction drawings
    • Experience with MS Excel
    • Working knowledge of the NEC and electrical systems design of AC and DC systems
    • Excellent communications and problem-solving skills
    • Disciplined and self-motivated
    • Immediate availability preferred
    • Some travel required
     
    Contact Bryan Villano, Bryan@TheCCEA.org with a resume and a short description of why this job would be good for you. He has a short attention span, so please keep that in mind.
  • 25 Jan 2012 9:10 AM | Michelle Hickey
    City Water, Light and Power's Energy Services Office is now offering rebates to residential and business customers for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. 

    Solar Rewards rebates will be calculated at $1,500 per kW installed up to a maximum rebate of $15,000 per CWLP account.  Rebates will last until budgeted Solar Rewards program funds are exhausted.  Applicants will 1) be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, 2) must have CWLP metered electric service, and 3) must obtain pre-approval by CWLP before any equipment is purchased.

    Rebate applications are available via the CWLP Energy Services Office nrgexprts@cwlp.com or can be requested by phone, (217) 789-2070.

    Customers may combine their CWLP solar rebate with both Federal tax credits and State rebates to create a more affordable solar investment.

    Here is a summary of the financial incentives available for CWLP PV owners:

    1) CWLP Rebate $1,500/kW installed
    2) IL DCEO Solar & Wind Rebate - $2.25/watt or 30% of project cost (typically opens in the fall)
    3) Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit - 30% of installed cost
    4) ISEA RECAP
  • 20 Jan 2012 2:11 PM | Michelle Hickey
    ComEd net metering customers can switch to an alternative retail energy supplier (ARES) to save money and/or opt for electricity from renewable energy sources, but there are a few extra steps involved.


    • Contact the ARES to request their Net Metering Application and learn about their enrollment procedures.  Net metering is legislated by the state, so the rules are the same for ComEd and ARES.

    • Review your ComEd bill to see if you have any credits on your account.  When you switch from ComEd to an ARES all credits will be lost.  Since ComEd net metering enrollment periods are April and October, and all net metering credits are zeroed out after 12 months, then those are probably the best months to make the switch.

    • If your community has organized a Community Aggregation for electric supply, you may wish to opt-out and enroll, if possible, once your credits are used up and after completing the new supplier's net metering agreement.


    This information was obtained from the ComEd Net Metering Department.




  • 20 Jan 2012 1:54 PM | Michelle Hickey
    IL DCEO has just shared some great news for Illinois solar and wind projects that applied for the 2011 Solar & Wind Rebate Program.  Funds were shifted and IL DCEO is able to consider almost all of the $3.6 million in applications.
     
    To all of these new system owners, please join the ISEA and let us know about your solar and/or wind systems for the upcoming 2012 Solar Tour and Renewable Energy Map.




  • 26 Dec 2011 11:20 AM | Michelle Hickey
    We have an email statement from ComEd staff regarding net metering for small commercial and residential customers:

    "ComEd staff believe that from a practical perspective, the company won't petition for a competitiveness declaration for the smallest commercial (under 15,000 kWh per year) and residential classes until all customers have a meter capable of reading energy consumption at hourly intervals (an interval data recorder or IDR).  ComEd staff report that the company's current plan is to roll out IDR meters over the next ten years." 


    Source: Bill  McNeil and Bob Garcia, December1, 2011, confirmed December 9, 2011.
  • 19 Dec 2011 10:06 AM | Michelle Hickey
    For those who have been following the IPA Draft Procurement Plan 2012 to include a distributed SREC plan, this blog provides next steps.

    The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) issued a Proposed Order in Case 11-0660, the Petition for Approval of the Illinois Power Agency’s Procurement Plan.  The Proposed Order says:

     
    The Commission believes it is best to defer consideration of a distributed solar generation procurement event until a more specific proposal is submitted by the IPA in the 2013 Procurement Plan that is consistent with the IPA Act. The Commission, however, accepts the IPA's commitment to hold workshops to thoroughly develop a distributed solar generation procurement and hereby directs it to do so.” 
    Page 124.
     
    All things considered, this language is encouraging.  It is a clear directive from the ICC to the IPA to hold workshops to develop a distributed solar program and to include that program in the 2013 Procurement Plan.  None of the intervening parties objected to this language in Briefs on Exception (Filed 12/1) or Reply Briefs (Filed 12/5).
     
    The Commission is currently reviewing the entire case file and will issue a Final Order before the end of the year.
    There is a Public Comment opportunity available in this docket, and we encourage you to use it to express your support for a Distributed Solar Procurement Program.   Most ICC cases are insider baseball - interested parties represented by lawyers participate in the formal legal proceedings, but it is rare that the Commissioners hear from the public.  In this case, it could be very valuable for the Commissioners to know that people outside of the formal parties actually care about the outcome.
     
    The ELPC encourages you to submit brief comments that:

    • (1) Tell the Commission who you are or who you represent.  Are you a solar business seeking to grow in Illinois, a prospective solar investor, an architect, an Illinois electricity rate payer?  Describe your interest in the case.
    • (2) Express support for the ICC directing the IPA to hold workshops to thoroughly develop a distributed solar generation program to be included in the 2013 IPA Procurement Plan.  Consider suggesting features of the workshops, e.g. they should be transparent, inclusive…
    • (3) Encourage the ICC to also direct the IPA to develop a study identifying and quantifying the grid benefits of distributed solar in Illinois.
    • (4) Share your thoughts about how this program will benefit Illinois.
     
    To submit comments
    :
    • (1) Go to the ICC’s comment page:  http://www.icc.illinois.gov/docket/comment/
    • (2)  In the pull down boxes at the top of the page, select “P” “11” “0660” then hit “Select.”
    • (3) Make sure you get to a comment form for Case 11-0660 – Illinois Power Agency Petition for Approval of the 220 ILCS 5/16-111.5(d) Procurement Plan.
    • (4) Fill out the form and hit “Submit.”
     
    Since the Commission must issue the Final Order by December 28th, the Commissioners are reviewing the case file right now. 
    Please submit your comments as soon as possible, but definitely within the next week (before December 21st).  That way the Commission will have plenty of time to review comments before they sign off on the Final Order.
     
    If you have any questions, please contact Madeleine Weil, mweil@elpc.org or Ashley Craig, acraig@elpc.org.

     
    Thank you!
     
    P.S. ComEd’s omnibus energy bill that was approved by the Illinois General Assembly during veto session in October-November contains several provisions with significant implications for Illinois solar stakeholders.  It fundamentally changes the net metering statute, includes a distributed generation carve-out, and introduces certification requirements for solar installers.  We will follow-up with another email within the next week to provide information about these changes.
 

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