ISEA Policy Blog

Welcome to the ISEA Policy 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. 

  • 01 Jul 2010 11:31 AM | Michelle Hickey

    Naperville man's roof system slashes use of gas and electricity

    June 30, 2010|By Gerry Smith, Tribune reporter

    A few years ago, Jim Camasto thought about investing $20,000 in the stock market.

    But instead, Camasto, 43, of Naperville, spent that money on a safer, "greener" investment — solar power.

    Camasto has installed a solar thermal and solar electricity system on his roof, which helps heat and power his home.

    His gas use has dropped more than 50 percent, and his electricity use has dropped about 70 percent. He sells extra power back to the electricity grid and sells renewable energy credits, which investors buy and trade to support renewable energy projects.

    His return on his investment is about 3 or 4 percent a year. (more)

  • 01 Jul 2010 11:27 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Chicago Tribune, Gerry Smith.
    .."We have been frustrated over the years that solar has not become more mainstream," said Kevin Lynch, who trains electricians to install solar panels for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. "We understand it's still a relatively expensive technology, but the cost is much less than it was a few years ago."

    Indeed, the biggest obstacle to the growth of solar energy — its cost — has started to decline. The price of photovoltaic solar panels dropped more than 40 percent last year due to a glut in global supply, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

    The drop in price is driving renewed interest in solar energy, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. (more)

  • 24 Jun 2010 11:45 AM | Michelle Hickey
    P.G.&E. Corporation, the California utility holding company, has created a $100 million tax-equity fund to finance residential solar installations by SunRun, a San Francisco start-up that leases photovoltaic arrays to homeowners.

    The fund, managed by a P.G.&E. subsidiary, Pacific Energy Capital II, is the largest single solar leasing pool to date, according to the company, and marks the growing interest of utilities in the renewable energy financing business.

    “We’re in somewhat of a unique position in that roughly half of the nation’s rooftop solar installations are in our service territory,” Brian Steel, P.G.&E.’s senior director of corporate strategy, said in an interview. “We’re at the proverbial ground zero of these new technologies and so perhaps more than any utility holding company in the country we have a strategic imperative to get ahead of the curve through having a propriety seat at the table with a partner like SunRun.” (more)

  • 22 Jun 2010 12:04 PM | Michelle Hickey

    Sunseeker, Western Michigan University's solar car                  Special to the Gazette/John A Lacko

    On Saturday, solar-powered vehicles took off at noon from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, en route to the Chicago suburb of Naperville. ASC is a competition where students design, build and drive solar-powered vehicles in a rally event. This year’s event marks the 20th anniversary of the ASC.

    In an effort to promote a greater understanding of solar energy technology, this hands-on competition provides the opportunity for students to “develop and demonstrate their technical and creative abilities” while learning about the benefits of solar power. (more)

  • 02 Jun 2010 4:28 PM | Michelle Hickey

    Watch the story

    A Northbrook couple says their neighbors were more concerned with green lawns than a "green" lifestyle. They were among those statewide who saw a homeowners association blocking their plans for the installation of solar panels on their own home. But, as CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports, those roadblocks seem to be melting away in the sun. 

    Solar energy panels seemed like a bright idea for the Goldmans and their sunbathed Northbrook home. 

"We have a southern exposure, which is the exposure you want to put up solar panels," said Phyllis Goldman, as she looks up at the sun shining over her two story roof. "The trees we have don't block it." 

    Phyllis and her husband Eugene are an environmentally conscious couple who have been recycling since the '70s. Four years ago, they drew up plans for a rooftop installation of several solar panels. 

"They don't add to the beauty of the house, but that's not the point of it," said Eugene. 

But the Goldmans live in a manicured, almost picture-perfect, private community where they knew outward appearances were subject to the approval of a homeowners association; an association that turned them down, in part over aesthetics. 

    "The last bastion of fascism is homeowners associations," said Phyllis. 

The decision had the green living couple seeing red. "If you don't want to do it yourself, that's your business, but to prevent somebody else from doing something that would be good for the environment, it's not good," said Phyllis. 

    Brandon Leavitt owns Solar Service, a company that specializes in solar energy. 

"Even on a cloudy day, we're generating electricity right now," said Leavitt, as we looked at a rooftop display of black solar panels that sit atop the roof of his business in Niles. 

He says for decades associations throughout Chicago have blocked solar panel installations. That's in spite of current federal programs offering considerable financial incentives for their purchase, and the fact that much of what's sold today arguably resembles a standard skylight. 

    "We think it's a freedom to choose," said Leavitt. "It's a freedom to choose to harvest the energy falling on your property," said Leavitt. 

    It's a choice now seeing the light of day thanks to Illinois' Homeowners' Solar Rights Act. It requires homeowners associations to adopt acceptable design standards for solar systems in buildings up to three stories tall. 

"Somebody just can't say, 'I don't like the way it looks, you can't do it,'" said Leavitt. 

    Re-energized, the Goldmans are now renewing their plans to power their home with the sun. 

"They should be grateful we didn't want to put up a windmill in our backyard," said Phyllis. 

The Homeowners' Solar Rights Act was approved by both Houses, and is awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature.

    (© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

  • 25 May 2010 10:10 AM | Michelle Hickey

    Jim Camasto loves sunny days. The Naperville resident, along with his wife Kath, enjoys seeing the sun out because it helps power his home. The Camastos have solar panels on their roof that provide both electrical and thermal energy to their home. On extra-hot days, excess electricity flows back into the Naperville power grid.

    “My neighbors are using it right now,” said Jim Camasto. “It’s a great way to produce energy. I just sit here and let the sun do it for me.”

    If you’re enrolled in Naperville’s renewable energy program, you contribute funds to purchase green energy from sources like Camasto’s solar panels. Click here to watch a video and read the article.
  • 21 May 2010 3:18 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The Illinois Solar Energy Association is seeking solar and wind energy professionals to teach introductory-level courses to the public and ISEA membership. Applicants should have in-depth knowledge of solar and wind technologies, experience public speaking and delivering presentations, and comfort teaching independently.

    ISEA courses generally run for three hours on Saturday mornings throughout the greater Chicago area, but also occasionally on weekday evenings.  All educational materials necessary for course delivery will be provided by ISEA. Instructors will receive compensation for their time and will have travel expenses covered.

    Interested applicants are to complete an application and submit it by June 18th.  Once applications are received and reviewed, a meeting will be scheduled at the ISEA office in Chicago to begin the vetting process.

    For more information, please contact Christopher Pell, Education Coordinator,

    Instructor Application
  • 05 May 2010 9:26 AM | Michelle Hickey


    Passed through the Energy Committee but defeated on the main floor last night in 17-26-6 vote!

    Senate Bill 380 amends the Illinois Power Authority Act (20 ILCS 3855/1-10) by expanding the definition of “renewable energy resource” and its associated “renewable energy credit” to include tire burning.

    Tire burning is not renewable energy. Renewable energy is produced from natural resources that do not pollute the air, water or land such as energy produced from: solar, wind, biomass (fibrous vegetation) and the earth’s thermal heat.

    Tires contain known carcinogens and poisons such as arsenic and benzene. Burning tires releases highly toxic dioxins as well as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 
  • 23 Apr 2010 8:52 AM | Michelle Hickey

    The City of Naperville, Department of Public Utilities-Electric (DPU-E) is expanding its use of renewable energy and raising public awareness by initiating a project to bring solar power to the department.  DPU-E is currently working with a local solar project developer, SoCore Energy, in building a 5 kW solar array on the property of the Fort Hill Dr substation at the intersection of 75th Street and Fort Hill Drive in Naperville.  The array, which is being donated and installed by SoCore will provide additional energy to offset the substation building’s energy needs.  The 25 panel array will be placed on the ground, and will have an estimated yearly energy production of 4,500 kWh.

    This clean energy project will provide a visual example of a renewable energy source.  DPU-E will use the project to enhance public awareness and aid in determining the feasibility and efficiency of solar power.

  • 14 Apr 2010 10:57 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Joe Compean designed a globe for the Chicago 2007 Cool Globe Project that utilized solar panels and LED lights.  Unfortunately a new high rise was built across the street, blocking much of the sun.  Joe is seeking assistance in finding replacement panels that would be able to generate enough energy using the reduced sunlight to power the LED lights.

    Contact Joe directly
    Joe Compean

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