On September 15, 2021 Governor Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (Public Act 102-0662). This Act included significant changes to the Adjustable Block/Illinois Shines program, including the reopening of the program within 90 days (December 14, 2021). On July 1, 2022, Energy Solutions became the new Program Administrator for Illinois Shines.
About the Program
Illinois Shines is the brand name for the Adjustable Block Program—a state-administered incentive program supporting the development of new solar energy generation in Illinois.
You may participate in Illinois Shines in one of two ways:
- You may host a new solar photovoltaic system on your rooftop or on your property, directly offsetting your energy usage; or
- You may participate as a subscriber to a community solar project—a large, centralized solar project for which you “subscribe” to a share of its output.
Whether you are planning to install solar on your property or subscribe to a community solar project, you must work with an Approved Vendor who will either submit your solar system to the Program or register your community solar subscription with an already established Community Solar project in the Program. The Program provides payments in exchange for 15 years of Renewable Energy Credits (“RECs”) from a utility contracted to buy the RECs from your Approved Vendor. These payments to your Approved Vendor will help offset the cost of your new PV system or your community solar subscription. Participating in Illinois Shines means you play an important role in helping the State meet its renewable energy goals.
More information on both Distributed Generation (rooftop or ground mounted solar on your property) or Community Solar can be found in the brochures below:
Click here to access the Program’s Distributed Generation Brochure.
Click here to access the Program’s Community Solar Brochure.
How does solar work?
- Solar panels harness the energy from the sun and convert it into electricity.
- Learn more about the technology of photovoltaics from the US Department of Energy here: https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-photovoltaic-technology-basics
Is my home or property a good fit for a solar system?
- Consulting with an Approved Vendor is the best way to figure out if your home (either your roof or your property for ground mounted systems) would be a good fit for a solar system. Use the Find an Approved Vendor list to get in contact with an Illinois Shines Approved Vendor and begin the process of assessing your home for solar suitability and readiness.
Will installing solar save me money?
- You are not guaranteed to save money unless your contract includes an explicit guarantee. The questions below will affect whether you save money. You can answer some questions yourself, while others can be answered by your installer or sales agent.
- What per kilowatt-hour rate are you currently paying for electricity? The higher the electricity rate before you go solar, the more money you can potentially save.
- Is your roof suitable for solar panels? The direction your roof faces and how much shade it gets will affect how much electricity roof mounted PV will generate. The roof’s condition should also be considered.
- How much electricity will the system generate? If your system produces more electricity than you use over an annual period, you may not receive credit for all the electricity generated.
- How much money will you receive for RECs? The Approved Vendor will be paid by a utility for your system’s RECs and may use some of that money to reduce your cost of going solar.
- Can you use the federal Investment Tax Credit? If you buy your system, you may qualify for a substantial federal income tax credit. Consult your tax adviser.
- How long do you expect to stay in your home or business location? If you lease or sign a PPA, you may be required to buy out the contract if you move. Read your contract to find out what happens if you move.
How much power will a solar system on my roof generate?
- The amount of power a solar system will generate is dependent on a variety of factors, including system size, roof angle, and sunlight. To understand how much power your system will generate, please work with your Approved Vendor, as each system is different.
I want solar! How do I go about finding someone to install solar on my roof/property?
- A list of Approved Vendors participating in Illinois Shines can be found here. You can contact the installers directly; if an Approved Vendor is not an installer, they may be able to refer you to an installer acting on their behalf. You should shop around, get a few quotes, read consumer reviews if available, and consider the transaction carefully before entering into any installation contract.
What is net metering?
- Net metering measures the electricity your PV system produces and credits you for it on your electric bill. If you buy electricity from your utility (e.g., basic service or hourly pricing), you must contact the utility to enroll in net metering. If you buy electricity from a Retail Electric Supplier (e.g., through municipal aggregation or an individual contract), you must contact the supplier to enroll in net metering. If you later change your electricity supplier, you will need to re-enroll in net metering with your new supplier. Failure to enroll or re-enroll may significantly impact the value you receive from your PV system.
Agency: The Illinois Power Agency who developed and manages the Illinois Shines program through its subcontractor, Energy Solutions.
Approved Vendor: An entity approved by the Program Administrator to submit project applications to the Adjustable Block Program and act as counterparty to the ABP contracts with the utilities.
Community Solar: A solar project which (1) is interconnected to an electric utility, a municipal utility, or a rural electric cooperative, (2) allows subscribers to pay for shares or some other “interest” in the project, receiving bill credits in exchange; and (3) does not exceed 2,000 kW AC in size. Also known as a “photovoltaic community renewable generation project.”
Community Solar Project Developer: A Community Solar Project Developer designs and oversees the development of community solar projects. The Developer must utilize an installer for the project who is certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission (“ICC”).
Community Solar Subscriber: A person who (i) takes delivery service from an electric utility, municipal utility, or rural electric cooperative, and (ii) has a subscription of no less than 200 watts to a community renewable generation project that is located in the utility’s service area.
Community Solar Subscription: An interest in a community renewable generation project expressed in kilowatts, which is sized primarily to offset part or all of the subscriber’s electricity usage.
Designee: Third-party (i.e., non-Approved Vendor) entities that have direct interaction with end-use customers. This includes installers, marketing firms, lead generators, and sales organizations. The Agency reserves the right to add additional categories of market activities as needed. Approved Vendors often work with Designees to manage various portions of solar system development.
Distributed Generation (“DG”): A system which is located on-site, behind a customer’s meter, and used primarily to offset a single customer’s load; it cannot exceed 2,000 kW AC in size.
Distributed Generation Installer (“DG Installer”): A DG Installer is an entity that has received certification from the Illinois Commerce Commission to perform distributed generation installations. Your installer may also be a Designee or an Approved Vendor with the Program.
Distributed Generation Project Developer (“DG Project Developer”): A DG, Project Developer may oversee client relationships, design of the solar project, and site management. The DG Project Developer must utilize an installer for the project who is certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission (“ICC”).
ICC: Illinois Commerce Commission (see 220 ILCS 5); the State Agency charged with regulating public utilities in Illinois, as well as approving aspects of the Adjustable Block Program.
IPA: Illinois Power Agency; the State Agency charged with administering the procurement of renewable energy resources to meet Illinois’ renewable energy portfolio standard, in addition to procuring electric power supply for eligible retail customers of electric utilities and other responsibilities.
Interconnection Agreement: An agreement with the utility to interconnect the photovoltaic community solar or distributed generation system to the utility’s distribution system.
Large Distributed Generation “Large DG”): A distributed generation system larger than 10 kW, up to 2 MW. For reference, large DG systems are usually hosted on larger buildings or roofs, not residential properties.
Net Metering: A provision in an electric utility’s tariff that allows for crediting a customer’s bill for all or some of the production of a distributed generation or community solar facility which has been exported to the distribution grid.
Part I: The initial application into the program which contains detailed information on the system and its location. Part I approval results in an ICC approved contract with one of the distribution utilities. A system must be energized within 12 months (18 months for community solar projects) after this contract is approved.
Part II: The second part of the application completed after energization, demonstrating completion of the project in accordance with the Part I parameters approved.
Program Administrator: The IPA’s subcontractor responsible for running day to day operations of the Adjustable Block Program. Energy Solutions has been designated the Program Administrator.
Project: A solar photovoltaic array and all associated equipment necessary for its generation of electricity and connection to the distribution grid. (Same as “System”)
Renewable Energy Credit (“REC”) or Solar Renewable Energy Credit (“SREC”): The environmental attributes represented by 1 MWh of electricity generated by a renewable generator. An SREC is a REC that specifically comes from a solar system. RECs are sold by your Approved Vendor to the contacting utility over a 15 year contract. Learn more about what a REC is here: https://vimeo.com/113250210
Small Distributed Generation (“Small DG”): A distributed generation system less than or equal to 10 kW in size. For reference, a residential solar project in Illinois is usually around 7kW and would be considered a small DG project.
Small Subscriber: A residential or small commercial customer with a subscription below 25 kW.
SREC Broker/Aggregator: An SREC Broker/Aggregator works with installers, companies, and individuals to submit projects for approval the Illinois Shines program.
System: A solar photovoltaic array and all associated equipment necessary for its generation of electricity and connection to the distribution grid. (Same as “Project”)