Become an Equity Eligible Contractor (EEC) or Designee
With the passage of Public Act 102-0662 (the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act) in 2021, Illinois Shines formed a new categorization for Approved Vendors called Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs). This new type of Approved Vendor receives the same REC price as other project applications submitted to the Program, but are offered a separate block of capacity that is reserved only for EECs.
Approved Vendors that would like to submit projects into the Equity Eligible Contractor (EEC) category must first apply to become EEC certified. They may do so in their Approved Vendor application or at any time after submitting their initial Approved Vendor application.
How to Become a Certified EEC
EEC certification occurs at the ownership/partner/proprietor level of a company (or board level in the case of non-profit organizations). The majority (50% or more) of a company’s ownership must qualify as an Equity Eligible Person by meeting one of the qualifications listed below:
- Persons who graduated from or are current or former participants in the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program, the Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program, the Illinois Climate Works Preapprenticeship Program, Returning Residents Clean Jobs Training Program, or the Clean Energy Primes Contractor Accelerator Program, and the solar training pipeline and multi-cultural jobs program created in paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(3) of Section 16-108.21 of the Public Utilities Act;
- Persons who are graduates of or currently enrolled in the foster care system;
- Persons who were formerly incarcerated; or
- Persons whose primary residence is in an equity investment eligible community.*
More information on the certification process can be found in the Program Guidebook. Proof of residence or graduation will be required if qualifying under options #1 or #4 above. Equity investment eligible community is defined below.
All applicants seeking EEC certification must attest to their qualifications. On the attestation, applicants will have the option to mark any of the information provided as confidential. The attestation can be viewed below.
- “Formerly Incarcerated” means any individual who (i) was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, not including juvenile detention, after the disposition of one or more misdemeanor or felony charges; and (ii) has completed their sentence.
- For the purposes of EEP eligibility or EEC certification, a “graduate or enrollee” of the foster care system refers to an individual who is currently or was formerly a youth in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, or the equivalent agency in another state.
* Equity Investment Eligible Communities
Equity investment eligible communities (EIECs) are geographic areas throughout Illinois which would most benefit from equitable investments by the state designed to combat discrimination. The eligible communities are: (1) R3 Areas as established pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Tax Act, where residents have historically been excluded from economic opportunities, including opportunities in the energy sector; and (2) Environmental justice communities, as defined by the Illinois Power Agency pursuant to the Illinois Power Agency Act, where residents have historically been subject to disproportionate burdens of pollution, including pollution from the energy sector.
For maps and address lookup tools for these two types of areas see https://r3.illinois.gov/eligibility and https://www.illinoissfa.com/environmental-justice-communities/ respectively.
Equity Eligible Contractor Designees
Designees may also certify as an Equity Eligible Contractor. Though it does not qualify projects from these Designees to be eligible for the Equity Eligible Contractor (EEC) category (which are projects submitted by EEC-certified Approved Vendors) there are generally three types of benefits to becoming an EEC Designee. These are (1) utilizing EEC Designee status to appeal to interested customers or Approved Vendors that wish to partner with EEC Designees, (2) contributing additional points toward Traditional Community Solar project scoring (thus increasing the chance of moving forward and obtaining a REC contract), and (3) exemption from the Program requirement of the submission of Minimum Equity Standard Compliance Plans, as EEC certified Designees (and AVs are considered in compliance). The application process for Designees to become EEC certified uses the same criteria as described in Section 2.B of the Program Guidebook.
Job Training Programs
More information on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s progress on standing up the job training programs can be found here: https://dceo.illinois.gov/climateandequitablejobs/ceja-program-announcements.html
Past graduates of job training programs made available by the Future Energy Jobs Act (P.A. 99-0906) are still eligible for EEC certification during this transition period. These programs and their offerors are listed below. Please note that some offerors provide multiple trainings and only the specific training programs listed below are eligible for EEC certification.
Future Energy Jobs Act Supported Job Training Programs & Offerors
- Solar Pipeline Training Program: Elevate, Illinois Central College, OAI, Inc. and Safer Foundation
- Multi-Cultural Job Training Program: ASPIRA, Inc of Illinois (ASPIRA), Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC), Chatham Business Association Small Business Development, Inc (Chatham Business Association), Chicago Urban League, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA), and National Latino Education Institute (NLEI).
If you or a colleague are a graduate of a training program and are unsure whether it is a qualifying program for Adjustable Block Program EEC certification, please reach out to the Program Administrator for confirmation.