Solar Energy in Illinois Increasing

Illinois is Changing the Way it Looks at Solar Energy

So, build it and change will come. A hearty congratulations to Avenue Garage in Oak Park as 42 tons of galvanized steel were delivered and installed Sunday, Feb 19th to the Avenue Garage as part of a 390 panel PV project. The solar array on the parking building will create enough power for the garage and more. In fact it will generate enough power that the extra can be sold back to the grid. Now isn’t that a nice turn of events?

Illinois is one of the most historied states in our nation. From celebrated presidents Abraham Lincoln, to the bootlegging mafia of the prohibition era and raging political scandals such as the recent Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) scandal, the state has an almost Jekyll and Hyde personality at times. While the state now tries to make forays into energy sustainability on one hand, it is doing so while leaving a huge carbon footprint. Slowly but surely, the state is evolving into a much more renewable energy oriented one with various incentive program being offered both to its residents and businesses.

There is more than enough direct solar energy potential based on the amount of direct solar rays received every day. To further support this fact. The Illinois Senate passed Bill 1652 which stipulates that at least .5 % of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2013 shall come from distributed renewable energy generation, .75% by 2014, and 1% by 2015. In addition, half of the distributed generation requirement shall come from systems 25 kW or smaller.

To help develop its solar and other renewable resources, Illinois’ government has implemented a relatively stringent renewable energy standard (RES). The RES requires energy suppliers in the state to source at least 25 percent of their power from renewables by the 2024-2025 compliance years.

While the state and utility companies shoot for that goal which is a long way off, at NASS (North American Solar Stores) we believe consumer demand for residential solar energy in Illinois will drive utilities to “green” their power much sooner or risk losing more and more energy independent customers who install their own solar power plants right on the roof.

To further speed adoption of renewable energy such as solar heat and solar water, the state offers residents and businesses tax breaks for buying and installing renewable. Illinois offers a net-metering program to residents who feed excess energy generated by their photovoltaic (PV) or other renewable energy systems back to the electric grid.

Net metering info can be found by visiting http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/environment/netmetering.html#netmetering

Another program that assists in rewarding the environmentally conscious is a performance based incentive program.

Members of ISEA can participate in its Renewable Energy Credit Aggregation Program (RECAP).

ISEA offers member with photovoltaic systems its Renewable Energy Credit Aggregation Program (RECAP). Under the RECAP program, members are able to receive payment for SRECs by generating a megawatt hour, 1,000 kW hours, of electricity with their PV system. As of 2009, enrollees received $65 for each SREC they produced. Applicants are notified at the beginning of the year how much they will be credited for their production capacity.

To be eligible, enrollees must submit a yearly application and maintain a membership in ISEA. The program is limited to installed PV systems up to 10 kW in size. Most homes and many small businesses will have solar installations that fall below this threshold.

Information on this program can be found at: http://www.illinoissolar.org/RECAP

The state also offers rebates to residents that install renewable energy like wind or solar and allows for PACE (Property-Assessed Clean Energy) Financing.

Property owners voluntarily opt‐in to get financing for improvements that is recouped via an assessment on their property taxes for as long as 20 years. PACE financing disburses the cost of energy adaptations like weather sealing, insulation, energy efficient boilers and cooling systems, replacement windows, and solar installations over the expected life of the adaptations and allows for the debt to transfer automatically to the next property owner if the property is resold.

PACE programs were activated with 27 others passing enabling legislation. However, 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. The FHFA is in the midst of a commentary period at present.

In the meantime, City Water, Light and Power’s Energy Services Office helps fill a gap by offering rebates to residential and business customers for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

So, build it and things will change. Simplification is what we need for meaningful results. Solar energy is one very important aspect of a truly green home. We want green homes in the future. The Appraisal Institute, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers, has simplified the defining principles of green homes. Last week, they released a form intended to help analyze values of energy-efficient home features. It is a prototype intended for appraisers’ use.

The new form is designed as an optional addendum to Fannie Mae Form 1004; the appraisal industry’s most widely used form for mortgage lending purposes. Used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, Form 1004 is completed by appraisers to help ensure safe and sound lending. Presently, the contributory value of a home’s green features is rarely part of the equation.

An interesting new inclusion in the form is the emphasis given to describing renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic. The form has an area where data collected by the appraiser could easily be used to calculate the net present value (NPV) of the energy savings from a solar energy system. More innovative inclusions are identification for third-party certifications such as LEED for homes.

NASS Solar Store in Illinois is
Grass Roots Energy Solar in Wauconda, IL

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