Path to 100 coalition says Illinois must expand solar funding to meet RPS goal

Yesterday the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) awarded renewable energy credits that will support the construction of hundreds of new solar facilities across the state.

Illinois’ solar energy boom has already added more than 1,300 new solar jobs in the state in 2018, and those figures will increase as construction begins on the facilities that received awards. Unfortunately beginning in 2020, Illinois will be unable to support additional wind and solar projects due to a lack of funding. An expansion of the state’s program is needed for Illinois to meet its statutory requirement of 25% renewable energy by 2025.

The limited size of Illinois’ renewable energy program means local governments will miss out on an estimated $222 million in property tax revenue over the next two decades. Illinois’ community solar program was only able to support 12% of the projects that applied, meaning 1,590 MW of permitted community solar projects will not be able to move forward at this time.

Going solar helps consumers lower their electric bills, and community solar projects generate an average of $140,000 per MW in local property taxes over a project’s 20-year life.

“Rural communities need new sources of revenue right now, and solar is one way to do that,” said Tim Nugent, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County. “We’re interested in seeing more community solar projects move forward, because at this point we’re leaving money on the table.”

Illinois awarded renewable energy credit contracts on April 10 for a total of 666 megawatts of new rooftop and community solar projects, a major step forward in a state with a total of 108 MW of solar power installed.

“We’ve proven that Illinois’ renewable energy program can deliver jobs and economic growth for all communities in our state. Now we need to create a path for renewable energy growth to continue,” said Nakhia Morrissette, Midwest director of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Labor and renewable energy organizations are united in support of HB2966, which would create 20,000 new wind and solar jobs and generate more than $3 billion in new tax revenue for our Illinois.”

Without an expansion of the state program, the remaining projects may never be built. The general assembly is considering legislation (HB2966/SB1781) to expand the state’s renewable energy program and allow additional projects to participate.

“We appreciate the Illinois Power Agency’s tireless work in executing Illinois’ first adjustable block program,” said Lesley McCain, executive director of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “Now that millions have been invested in project development and consumers and counties across the state are waiting to benefit from solar power, we need the General Assembly to act and expand this successful program.”

News item from Path to 100

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