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. 

  • 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:
    • (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, or Ashley Craig,

    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.
  • 12 Dec 2011 4:06 PM | Michelle Hickey
    ComEd customers can now choose to be powered by 100% Illinois Wind and Solar, SAVE money, and RAISE money for the ISEA!

    Switch to RE-Power Illinois to:

    • Support the development of new wind and solar projects in Illinois
    • Stimulate the economy and build green jobs in Illinois
    • Reduce your environmental impact
    • Save money on your monthly bill AND earn a $50 cash back bonus (Option to donate to ISEA)
    • Earn the ISEA a $20 donation by selecting ISEA as the How did you hear about us?

    This 100% Illinois renewable energy option is offered through a partnership between electricity supplier Verde Energy USA and renewable energy developer and marketer Community Energy, Inc.

    There is no binding contract or cancellation fee and the variable rate is currently 7.69¢ per kWh (ComEd is 7.733¢)

    We know there are many people who would like to install a solar system or wind turbine on their property, but can't for a variety of reasons.  Well, now you have the next best thing thanks to RE-Power Illinois!

    Illinois Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law of 1997 restructured the state-s electric service industry to allow a choice of electric suppliers.  ComEd remains your electric utility, providing billing, customer service, and energy delivery.  A line item is simply added for your new energy supplier.

    It is so easy and can make such a difference in renewable energy development in our State.  Why wouldn't you do this?

    Share the link,, or download the print enrollment form to share this opportunity with friends and family members, colleagues, and neighbors. 

  • 02 Dec 2011 12:09 PM | Michelle Hickey
    Two weeks ago Diehl Controls installed a 4.03 kW photovoltaic system on the flat-roof of the company site in Naperville and plans to officially announce the commissioning of the PV system on Dec 2nd, 2011 at 5 pm.

    According to Naperville Public Utilities Diehl Controls NA is the first commercial photovoltaics system in Naperville.

    Solar Service installed the 18 Sharp polycrystalline modules using a non-penetrating roof racking system.  Diehl Controls supplied their Platinum 4301 S-A inverter and Platinum Webmaster internet monitoring system to complete the system.

    Diehl Controls is located at 1842 Centre Point Circle, Suite 110, Naperville, IL.

  • 28 Nov 2011 1:31 PM | Michelle Hickey
    The November 9th blog entry, "IL Net-metering dealt a blow," revealed the bad news about the net-metering policy recently passed in the state veto session.  None of this information has changed, but if you are still confused the Environmental Law & Policy Center has taken the time to provide a summary of the statute (220 ILCS 5/16-107.5) to provide further clarification.

    Download ELPC Summary of Illinois Net Metering Revisions.pdf

  • 11 Nov 2011 10:56 AM | Peter Gorr

    As a homeowner who recently installed a Solar PV system on my home, I am constantly asked about my payback.  My response has been and continues to be “it made me a wealthier person the day the switch was thrown”.  This response flies in the face of what people expect my response to be which is “20 years” or something along those lines.

    My response is based on factoring into the economics of my system the effect on my net worth.  Now I had to come up with over $46,000 to finance the installation, but received $27,000 in rebates and tax credits and am left with $19,000 “tied up” in the system.  Note I consider my cash “tied up” not “gone” which the concept of payback implies.  I consider this money tied up in the same sense that cash is tied up in an IRA or in stocks until you sell. 

    A study from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which came out in April, discovered that solar panels boosted home prices by approximately $3.90 to $6.40 per watt or $17,000 for a 3,100-watt PV system.  Since my system is more than twice that size if I just double that estimation I am, as I stated earlier, a wealthier person from a net worth standpoint.  Granted the proof is when I sell which I do not have plans to do, but it is important for someone considering a solar system to think in positive terms about all aspects of the purchase.  It is just putting one’s cash to work that while it is “tied up” will return a dividend in the form of monthly energy savings.  Again, for me, it has been a more stable and predictable investment than stocks (these days!) in that I get a monthly financial benefit (which equates to about a 5% annual return on my investment which is better than any CD) and all indications are when I sell this investment I will recover more than I put in.   This is very similar to a dividend paying stock but with the very important environmental benefits which was the prime driver for my decision.  Personally I couldn’t be happier and consider it a solid win-win investment which is rare to find. 

    In today’s Chicago Tribune an article, Greening your house for a sale, also refers to another recent study that supports the value addition to a home solar panels contribute.


    I believe the industry must focus on changing people’s impulse to think “payback” and get them to think in terms of “net worth” and the discussion moves from being somewhat negative to instantly positive. 

    There is a great class that speaks to this topic, “Greening Real Estate – Appraisal value of green improvements” in Wheeling on November 16th.


  • 09 Nov 2011 10:19 AM | Michelle Hickey
    If you attended Solar Drinks last night, then you learned the ugly truth about what happened to net-metering as a result of the trailer bill (HB3036) to ComEd's bill (SB1652).  Within 1-3 years, no ComEd customer will be eligible for retail net-metering.

    ELPC and the ISEA have been advocating for an increase in net-metering from 40 kW to 2 MW and a bill with that language did pass Congress during this past legislative session, but then was swallowed by ComEd's bill.  In the process of digestion the language was altered and became quite complicated.

    Thanks to the dogged work of ELPC they unraveled the language and discovered the bad news.  The net-metering cap was raised to 2 MW, but the electric customers who use that amount of energy are ineligible for the 1:1 kilowatt-hour credit because they have been declared a competitive customer.  They would only receive ComEd's "avoided cost" credit (p.335)  But that is only the beginning.

    ComEd electric customers with peak loads of 100 kW to 400 kW (medium-sized customers) and 400 kW and above (large-sized customers) were declared competitive by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) in October and August respectively.  A category of customers is declared competitive when more than 33% have chosen at least 3 different alternative Retail Energy Suppliers (RES) to supply their electricity. 

    It won't be long until all ComEd customers are declared competitive.  This means no ComEd customer with a renewable energy system of any size will be eligible for 1:1 net-metering.  All renewable energy customers will only receive the avoided cost.  In essence Illinois has taken a mighty step backwards from the previous net-metering policy.

    Off-grid living with battery storage is beginning to look appealing.

  • 01 Nov 2011 2:30 PM | Michelle Hickey

    On March 1st, 2012 Clean Energy Trust will host the second annual Clean Energy Challenge: a first in class business competition for Midwestern cleantech innovators. Finalists will present to a panel of distinguished venture investors and industry experts to vie for $250,000 in cash prizes.

    Eligibility is restricted to companies located in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky & Ohio. 

    Applications will be due December 5, 2011

    Applicants compete in either the Early Stage Business track or the Student Challenge. Grand prizes of $100,000 will be awarded in each track.

    Winners of last year’s Early Stage competition have gone on to receive significant venture funding and are well on their way to becoming sustainable clean energy businesses. Student Challenge competitors will vie for an opportunity to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s first-ever national business competition for university students.

  • 01 Nov 2011 12:00 PM | Michelle Hickey

    The SEIA has created a petition to extend the 1603 Program. 25,000 electronic signatures are needed by November 25, 2011 in order for the White House staff to review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.

    Extend 1603 Program: Payments for Specified Energy Property in Lieu of Tax Credits 

    A five-year extension of the TGP to coincide with the term of the investment tax credit would support an additional 114,000 jobs in the solar energy industry in 2015, a 32% increase over baseline, and would result in 7,450 megawatts of cumulative additional capacity installed through 2016. A predictable five year policy framework will generate an environment that fosters industry growth larger than the potential year-to-year extensions and would create sustained momentum for the industry.

    The 1603 Treasury Program was created to address the shortage of tax equity available to renewable energy projects due to the collapse of the financial markets. The TGP allows developers to receive a cash grant in lieu of the Section 48 Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The TGP has supported more than a thousand solar projects representing over $3 billion in total investment, contributing to a nearly two-fold increase in solar electric capacity in 2010.

    Another benefit is that this helps to fund leases for the elderly and non-profit organizations.

    Click to download the Solar Energy Industry Association Study: Economic Impact of Extending the 1603 Treasury Program.

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