Become an Equity Eligible Contractor (EEC)

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act established an Equity Accountability System to expand access to the clean energy economy, including establishing a project category for Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs) in Illinois Shines. Qualifying  Approved Vendors (AVs) and Designees may register for EEC certification. Businesses that qualify as an Equity Eligible Contractor and seek to participate in the Program but do not wish to act as an Approved Vendor, do not yet have a relationship with an Approved Vendor, and/or do not have a customer-facing role for projects submitted to the Program may register as an EEC Subcontractor.

A contractor holding a clipboard in front of a solar array.

There are three different ways to participate in the Program as an EEC:

EEC Approved Vendors (AVs): 

  • Are able to submit applications into a separate, reserved block of project capacity available only to EEC Approved Vendors
  • May request an Advance of Capital to the lesser of $750,000 or 50% of the REC contract value per project 
  • Are exempt from meeting the Minimum Equity Standard

EEC Designees and Subcontractors:

  • May utilize their EEC status to appeal to interested customers or Approved Vendors that wish to partner with EECs
  • Contribute additional points toward projects in the Traditional Community Solar and Community-Driven Community Solar categories (thus increasing the chance of moving forward and obtaining a REC contract)
  • Are exempt from meeting the Minimum Equity Standard

Note that EEC Subcontractors must work with an Approved Vendor or Designee to participate in the Program, but may register prior to establishing such relationships. Any EEC Subcontractor that intends to interact with end-use customers on behalf of an Approved Vendor must register as a Designee before acting in that capacity.

Simple steps to becoming a certified Equity Eligible Contractor

Step 1

1. Review the eligibility criteria below

Step 2

2. Complete and submit either an Approved Vendor application or Designee registration form. Then complete the EEC application and EEC attestation.

Please note, entities seeking to become registered EEC Subcontractors only need to complete the EEC Application and EEC Attestation. The Program Administrator may also request additional documentation showing proof of eligibility. It’s helpful to have these documents ready to make your application process easier.

Step 3

3. Check your email frequently and respond to any follow up requests from the Program Administrator during your application review

Application review typically takes two weeks.

A dedicated EEC Sector Strategist is ready to support prospective and current EECs with:

Illinois Shines Approved Vendor, Designee, and/or EEC Subcontractor registration and renewal

Fulfilling required Program reporting

Submitting project applications, including accessing technical support

Supporting mentees in the Mentorship Program

Directing EECs to the Energy Workforce Equity Portal to connect with job seekers

and more!

Qualification for becoming an Equity Eligible Contractor

Qualification for EEC certification is assessed at the ownership/partner/proprietor level of a company (or board level in the case of non-profit organizations). The majority (over 50%) of a company’s ownership must qualify as an Equity Eligible Person (EEP) by meeting one of the qualifications listed below:

  1. 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;
    If you qualify with this eligibility criteria, you must provide a certificate of completion or written communication from the training program administrator confirming participation 
  2. Persons who are graduates of or currently enrolled in the foster care system;
  3. Persons who were formerly incarcerated; or
  4. Persons whose primary residence is in an equity investment eligible community (“EIEC”), as defined by Section 1-10 of the Illinois Power Agency Act (20 ILCS 3855/1-10).
    If you qualify with this eligibility criteria, you must provide documentation that includes your address, such as your driver’s license, state ID, utility bill, pay stub, lease, mortgage agreement, or other similar documentation.

All applicants seeking EEC certification must attest to their qualifications and will have the option to mark any of the information provided as confidential on the attestation portion of the EEC application. All EECs and their preferred contact information will be publicly listed on the Find an Approved Vendor or Designee page.

EECs may renew their certification annually beginning one year after their registration in tandem with AV or Designee renewal or through the EEC Subcontractor renewal process. The EEC must continue to meet their qualifying criteria to maintain certification. As part of that process, Equity Eligible Persons that serve as the majority-owner of an EEC and qualify as an EEP based on residency will be required to re-certify their primary residency in an EIEC. EECs that qualify based on one of the other criteria, this re-certification will only require confirmation of continued majority-ownership by the EEP(s). 

Clarifications on

  • “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.

Job Training Programs

More information on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s progress on the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program, Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program, Illinois Climate Works Preapprenticeship Program, Returning Residents Clean Jobs Training Program, Clean Energy Primes Contractor Accelerator Program can be found on the DCEO website. 

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 Future Energy Jobs Act or Climate and Equitable Jobs Act training programs on this list are eligible for EEC certification. 

Future Energy Jobs Act Supported Job Training Programs & Offerors

CEJA-support Job Training Programs & Offerors are still being determined 

If you or a colleague are a graduate of a training program and are unsure whether it is a qualifying program or require assistance in completing your EEC registration application, please reach out to the Program Administrator at [email protected].