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. 

  • 11 Jul 2012 4:53 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The solar community was inspired last night at Solar Drinks to galvanize our collective power to establish a sustainable future for solar.  Clean Energy Illinois PAC leaders presented their plan to raise money to fund election efforts for candidates that will not only support clean energy legislation but CREATE growth and longevity.

    Illinois policy has consistently hindered solar development and with this latest hit to the DCEO Solar & Wind Energy Rebate Program by Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) combined with the RPS funding issue, the solar community is ready to take action.


    Below are some resources related to last nights Solar Drinks:


    ISEA Policy summary PowerPoint


    Clean Energy Illinois PAC


    TAKE ACTION page to save solar businesses


    WCPT Podcast of Lisa Albrecht, advocate for Clean Energy Illinois, on the Mike Nowak show 7/8/12

  • 11 Jul 2012 9:22 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Special Assessment for IL Solar Energy Systems

    Solar systems should not increase your property taxes according to
    Property Tax Code § 35 ILCS 200/10-5 et seq.  Illinois offers a special assessment for solar energy systems, but you may have to register with a chief county assessment officer or contact your local assessor.  Solar energy equipment is valued at no more than a conventional energy system.

    Eligible equipment includes both active and passive solar-energy systems.

    Check your property tax bill, and if you feel your assessment increased due to your solar installation, contact your local assessor office who is listed on your tax bill.

    Your assessor may request a completed State of Illinois PTAX-330 property tax form.
  • 22 Jun 2012 11:42 AM | Michelle Hickey
    The ISEA is made up of incredible people who support solar in many ways:

       •  through membership which funds ISEA programs
       •  by installing renewable energy on their home or business
       •  by working in the renewable energy industry
       •  by volunteering
       •  and by being a Solar Ambassador!


    Just recently several ISEA members have stepped up as Solar Ambassadors sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for solar with others to expand awareness and support solar development!


    Peter Gorr was recently recognized by the Illinois Sierra Club for his work educating and influencing municipalities on greening their electric supply! Read about how Peter walks the walk with his own home solar installation. The ISEA will be hosting a Solar Social on August 4th at Peters home. 


    Rich Born, a lifetime ISEA member, educated a group of 20 junior high girls from the Northern Illinois University Enhancing Engineering Pathways (NIU-EEP) program about solar on June 14th.  Rich is a retired educator who loves to teach and share his enthusiasm for solar.  He has a 5 kW photovoltaic system and a Chevy Volt. 


    Susan Tauck and Bill Wawak, who have both participated in the Solar Tour for several years, volunteered to share their renewable energy experiences and installations with 8 teachers who are participating in an Energy and Ag class through the McHenry County Farm Bureau.  Both Tauck and Wawak have PV, solar thermal and wind installations.


    Thank you to these Solar Ambassadors and any others who are sharing their passion for solar with others.  Let's continue to spread the word that Illinois is Ready for Solar!




  • 11 Jun 2012 9:54 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Last year during the veto session SB 1652, ComEd Smart Grid, passed and included language regarding net metering.  The new net metering language increased eligible system size from the previous 40 kW to 2 MW, but added the caveat of non-competitive customer class in order to qualify for 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit and free net meter installation.

    On May 30, 2012, SB 3811, passed both houses and succeeded in adding language to protect current and future renewable energy customers' ability to receive a 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit for their overproduction.  Now all customer classes that were not declared competitive as of July 1, 2011, both residential and 100 kW peak load customers, are eligible for 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit. 

    Be assured that if you currently net meter and receive a 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit on your bill, are a residential or 100 kW peak load utility customer, then your net metering arrangement will continue.

    New renewable energy customers who are residential or 100 kW peak load utility customers are also eligible for 1:1 kilowatt-hour net metering.

    All other customer classes that have been declared competitive are still able to net meter up to a 2 MW size system, but will receive the utilities avoided cost as a credit for over production.

    Net metering credits roll over month to month, but are annualized in April or October, depending on your agreement.  At that time any accumulated credits are erased and go to the utility.  An ISEA member and Solar Ambassador recently wrote about this issue, click here to read his blog post.
     
  • 04 Jun 2012 10:05 AM | Michelle Hickey
    On Thursday, May 31st the Illinois legislature passed the budget which included a $3.7 million appropriation to the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN).  The money is to be taken from the IL DCEO portion of the Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund, which typically contains $5 million - a loss of 75% of their funding.

    The Solar & Wind Energy Rebate program is typically allocated $1.5 million of the $5 million budget, but with only $1.3 million left in the fund after the sweep, it is unlikely to be continued for 2012-13.

    The ISEA will keep you posted as we learn more from IL DCEO.


  • 11 May 2012 9:06 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Original Post at Heatspring Magazine by Brian Hayden

    This week I flew to Chicago for the Illinois Solar Energy Association fund raiser.  Jigar Shah delivered the keynote to 70 registrants, packed into Emmett’s Place in Palatine.  I left at 9:30pm with an excited sense that Solar PV in Illinois is going to take off.


    Worried you can't compete with

    big, national solar companies?

    "Nothing could be further
    from the truth."



    This was my second Jigar Shah presentation, (here is my first) and I’m on the verge of becoming a groupie – the guy spews useful information at a prolific rate.  He delivered great Illinois-specific policy insights, but my favorite topic he covered was, “When explosive growth happens here in Illinois, and all of the big, national, solar installation companies begin flooding the market, and installed prices drop to $2.75/watt, how can you possibly compete?”


    When Jigar asked this question, the room got quiet, because it’s a very real concern for the small businesses that have been pushing a big rock up a hill for a long time.  They’ve built a market, invested in lobbying on the state level, and it would be bittersweet to watch the industry take off if they couldn’t reap the benefits.  Here was Jigar’s encouraging message:


    • Worried you can’t compete with bigger solar companies?  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Some of you might get bought, as the bigger players don’t know your market.  And some of you will grow to be the biggest players in this market because you know and care about your communities.  That does still matter.

    • You guys have a lower cost structure than the big guys.  Once you can get to 1 container/month, you’ll have the same materials cost structure, and you don’t have layers of management and overhead that the big guys do.  The most profitable solar contractors in the U.S. are 1 office, usually a husband and wife team, with 2 crews.

    • The only thing big companies have that you lack, is confidence.  You charge more because you plan to do one job per month and you need that job to cover salaries and overhead for that whole month.  Build a model to find out what sort of volume you need to do to install for $2.75/watt and start working toward that.  You have to believe it’s possible for it to work.

    • The biggest impediment to you making money in the solar business is the fact that you love solar so much, so you forget about the basic principles of business: you have to have more money coming in than going out.

    • Everyone here needs to understand third party financing.  It’s not as complicated as you think it is, and it’s a fundamentally easier sell, so it’s opening up bigger and bigger markets. (Note: HeatSpring has a free online Solar Lease Training.)

    • It’s critical that you understand how the SRECs are going to be valued here in Illinois.  Springfield is far, but you’ve got to go.  You think you’re above lobbying and getting involved with government, but they need to see your face, and they need to hear where you’ve installed solar, and who your customers are.  They care about that stuff and it makes a big difference. (Note: HeatSpring has a free online Understanding SRECs training.)

    Events like this are a great reason to join ISEA, or whatever your local organization is.  There’s no substitute for live networking, getting involved, and getting the inside scoop on what’s coming.

    The Illinois market feels like Massachusetts in 2008.   With the Renewable Energy World analysis of the Solar PV Market in Massachusetts in the back of my mind, I felt like I could provide useful lessons for how to win as the industry grows.  I truly think we’re going to see something great happen in Illinois in the coming years.

  • 30 Apr 2012 9:50 AM | Michelle Hickey
    Included in SB1652, now Public Act 097-0616, is a provision for the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to develop certification standards for solar PV and EV charging station installers. 

    Rulemaking on docket 12-0212 begins today. 
    The ISEA is intervening and will participate in this process.  ELPC and IBEW are also intervening. 
  • 17 Apr 2012 10:17 AM | Michelle Hickey
    After watching this video you will want to get solar for yourself.  Attend Solar Social (its FREE) on April 28th at Freedom Field in Rockford to learn how you can!

    Solar road trip through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio demonstrating solar working in the Midwest. 

  • 20 Mar 2012 9:55 AM | Michelle Hickey
    The Illinois Power Authority (IPA) is hosting a second workshop so that it may effectively include a distributed generation REC component, compliant with PA 097-0616, in its next Procurement Plan for 2013.  Presenting will be Brad Klein of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, who along with Paul Neilan (energy lawyer) and Thomas Russell (of ComEd) have volunteered to help lead our discussion.

    Monday, April 2, 2012
    1:00 - 4:00 PM

    Room N-505
    Michael A. Bilandic Building
    160 N. LaSalle Street
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (allow time to go through building security)

    Call In Information:

    (877) 402-9757
    Passcode:  9525407

    Please indicate your attendance plans by emailing arlene.juracek@illinois.gov
  • 29 Feb 2012 1:35 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Here’s a cool time lapse look at 42 tons of galvanized steel being delivered and installed Sunday, Feb 19th to the Avenue Garage in Oak Park as part of a 390 panel PV project awarded to Solar Service in a design bid competition last fall. Next week we attach our panel racking to this support structure and hope to complete the project a couple weeks later.

    The solar array on the parking garage will generate sufficient electricity not only to power the electrical needs of the garage, but also generate surplus power that can be sold back to the electric grid.

 

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