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The Sun Shines On Illinois

posted Dec 13, 2016, 9:17 PM by Nate Shanklin

Illinois revises its energy policy and steps onto the renewable mainstage.

In the first week of December, the previously unthinkable happened, the Illinois Legislature passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814).  This bill largely fixes the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and sets a goal of 25% renewable energy for the State by 2025. Much thanks goes to Solar Energy Industries Association of Illinois (SEIA) as their lobbying and outreach efforts were a significant positive force in the passage of this bill.

Presently per SEIA data, (www.SEIA.org), Illinois has a total of 66 Megawatts (MW) of installed capacity. With the passage of this bill, it is expected that this number will jump to 2,700 MW before the end of 2017.  This expansion will be divided up into 50% distributed generation and community solar (residential and small commercial), 40% utility scale (large scale systems), and then the remaining 10% dedicated to brownfield (toxic land sites) and other niche renewable projects.

While this is a tremendous moment for Illinois solar, which currently lags at 27th in the country, there is still much to do.  Presently, Illinois lacks much of the infrastructure at the governmental level to manage the onslaught of projects.  Illinois agencies will be well advised to look at the successes and pitfalls of states such as Massachusetts and North Carolina as they fought to develop their own renewable markets.

While there is still much to figure out, Illinois is now set to become a major player in the renewable market. Tangible effects of this bill are expected to be felt by the end of 2017, many groups have already begun to plan and plot for when the queues are finally established.  One thing is for sure, with the lofty goals set forth in this bill, solar in Illinois is about to get interesting.