What is prevailing wage and how does it apply to my Illinois Shines application?

Prevailing wage is a minimum compensation level set by the Illinois Department of Labor by county for construction activities related to public works. Section 1-75(c)(1)(Q) of the IPA Act (20 ILCS 3855) as modified by Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (Public Act 102-0662) now requires that individuals engaged in the construction of applicable projects submitted to the Illinois Shines (statutorily known as the Adjustable Block Program) are paid the relevant prevailing wage.  Additionally, Illinois Public Act 102-0673 (effective as of November 30, 2021) clarifies that such projects are “public works” subject to the Prevailing Wage Act—which includes notice requirements and related provisions as well. The Prevailing Wage Act defines ‘construction’ to include maintenance, repair, assembly, or disassembly work performed on equipment.

For Illinois Shines administration, Illinois law allows for only the following types of projects to be considered exempt from prevailing wage requirements:

  • Large Distributed Generation projects (greater than 25 kW AC) that were on a waitlist as of December 14, 2021 (with applications thus needing to have been received prior to the ABP’s November 1, 2021 closure)
  • Distributed generation projects (Large or Small) that either:
    • serve a single-family or multi-family residential facility, or
    • serve a house of worship and are not greater than 100 kW AC (aggregated with any co-located projects)

In addition, construction activities for all other distributed generation projects that occurred before September 15, 2021, will not be subject to prevailing wage requirements. For distributed generation and community solar projects that do not fall into one of the above exempted categories, construction activities including maintenance, that occur after September 15, 2021 will be subject to prevailing wage requirements.

A project application sized between 10-25 kW for which an application was originally received in the Large Distributed Generation category (i.e., on or before November 1, 2021) will be considered a waitlisted Large Distributed Generation project for prevailing wage purposes, although that project will otherwise be reclassified as a Small Distributed Generation project for processing the project application.

Part I of the project application will include a required certification that the applicant understands that prevailing wage requirements may apply to that project, and the Part I verification will include the Program Administrator’s determination regarding applicability of prevailing wage requirements.  In Part II of the project application, the Approved Vendor will be required to certify to and document compliance with prevailing wage requirements, if applicable.

The exact processes for verifying that (a) a facility is residential or is a house of worship, (b) construction on a project was completed before September 15, 2021, and (c) prevailing wage was in fact paid to individuals working on an individual photovoltaic project construction can be found in Section 5.F. of the Program Guidebook.