Minimum Equity Standard (MES) Year-End Report Guidance

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Section 1-75(c-10) of the Illinois Power Agency Act (IPA Act) requires the Illinois Power Agency (IPA or Agency) to establish an Equity Accountability System, including a Minimum Equity Standard (MES) for the project workforce of entities applying for renewable energy credit (REC) contracts under the IPA’s Indexed REC procurements and Illinois Shines program. The MES requires a certain percentage of an Approved Vendor or Designee’s workforce to be Equity Eligible Persons (“EEPs”). The purpose of the MES is to ensure increased access to employment in the Illinois clean energy sector for those who historically have been excluded from such opportunities.

Beginning in the current Program Year, each Approved Vendor and Designee participating in the Illinois Shines program must meet a required minimum percentage of 10% Equity Eligible Persons (EEPs) in their project workforce. With the exception of Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs), all Approved Vendors and Designees participating in the Illinois Shines program must comply with this requirement. For more information on the Minimum Equity Standard, please visit, which provides informational resources including the Guide to the Equity Accountability System & Illinois Shines.

With the close of the current Program Year on May 31, 2024, the IPA and Program Administrator team are providing guidance to participating entities in completing the first MES Year-End Report, including information regarding key dates and deadlines, items that can be prepared in advance of the deadline, and consequences for not meeting the MES or alternatively, being granted a waiver from the requirement of complying with the MES. With the Minimum Equity Standard requirement in effect each Program Year, in addition to the Year-End Report due by July 15 for the 2023-24 Program Year, Approved Vendors and Designees should note that additionally, Program Year 2024-25 MES Compliance Plans are due on June 3, 2024 as the next Program Year begins.

Key Dates

  • April 2024 (or earlier) – MES Compliance Plan for next Program Year (2024-25) opens for submissions
  • May 1, 2024 – MES Year-End Report opens for submissions
  • May 31, 2024 – Conclusion of the 2023-24 Program Year
  • June 3, 2024 – Deadline for submission of MES Compliance Plan for the 2024-25 Program Year
  • July 15, 2024 – Deadline for submission of MES Year-End Report for Program Year 2023-24

How does the MES Year-End Report differ from the initial MES Compliance Plan?

With the preparation and submission deadlines for the current Program Year’s MES Year-End Report and the following Program Year’s MES Compliance Plan overlapping, the following chart clarifies the differences between the documents including a breakdown of each submission’s requirements:

 MES Year-End Report for PY 2023-24MES Compliance Plan for PY 2024-25
Form Opens for SubmissionsMay 2024April 2024
Submission DeadlineJuly 15, 2024June 3, 2024
IntentThe MES Year-End Report is intended for your organization to document how it implemented and achieved compliance with the MES over the applicable Program Year. For this report, the applicable Program Year is 2023-24, and the MES requirement is 10% EEPs.The MES Compliance Plan is intended for organizations to show how they plan to achieve the MES over the upcoming Program Year. In this Compliance Plan, you will explain your organization’s plans to conduct outreach and hire EEPs to reach the 10% EEPs requirement under the MES for the 2024-25 Program Year.
Data Required– Actual project workforce total
– Actual project workforce demographic information
– Actual EEP total
– Description of outreach efforts employed to recruit EEPs
– Job training program graduate hiring data, Illinois-based workforce diversity data
– Number of full-time, part-time, temporary, and contract employees in workforce

Please see sample Year-End Report form for more detail
– Estimated project workforce total
– Estimated project workforce demographic information
– Estimated number of EEPs currently in your project workforce
– Number of EEPs your organization seeks to hire over the Program Year to achieve compliance
– Communication/outreach plan that will be used to increase the utilization of EEPs
Who Needs to SubmitAll Approved Vendors, Designees, and Nested Designees who participated* in the Illinois Shines program during the 2023-24 Program Year. Entities certified as Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs) are exempt from this requirement.All Approved Vendors, Designees, and Nested Designees who intend to participate* in the Illinois Shines program during the 2024-25 Program Year. Entities certified as Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs) are exempt from this requirement.

*For the purposes of the MES, “participation” in the Program includes:

  • Submitting projects to Illinois Shines.
  • Performing construction on any project intended on being submitted to Illinois Shines.
  • Conducting any sales or marketing activity for projects that have been or will be submitted to the Program.
  • Managing subscriptions for a Community Solar project that holds a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) contract (including projects approved prior to the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act [CEJA]).
  • Maintaining a project on a waitlist.
  • Otherwise conducting business on a project seeking or that holds a REC contract.

MES Year-End Report Submission Requirements

The MES Year-End Report is intended for your organization to document compliance with the MES across a Program Year. A template for the MES Year-End Report can be downloaded on the Program website here: Required data and information include:

  • Approved Vendor and Designee information
  • Project workforce total 
  • Project workforce demographic information
  • EEP workforce totals, including proof of EEP eligibility and any supporting documentation for any EEPs not registered in the IPA’s Energy Workforce Equity Portal (e.g., for individuals that qualify based on residency in an Equity Investment Eligible Community [EIEC], submission of proof of primary residence will be required)
  • Description of outreach efforts employed by the Approved Vendor or Designee to recruit EEPs
  • Job training program graduate hiring data, Illinois-based workforce diversity data
  • Other data previously collected during the Approved Vendor Annual Report

The submission period for the 2023-24 MES Year-End Report will begin on May 1, 2024 and close on July 15, 2024.  Please note that information to be submitted should encompass a participating entity’s total project workforce for the entire Program Year.

Preparation Steps for Year-End Report Submission

Participating Approved Vendors and Designees are encouraged to begin gathering information needed to complete the MES Year-End Report ahead of time, including encouraging EEPs in their project workforce to register in IPA’s Energy Workforce Equity Portal. In the MES Year-End Report, Approved Vendors/Designees will be required to provide the full names of individuals in their project workforce who qualify as EEPs, and the Program Administrator will verify their qualifications as part of the review process. While it is not a requirement to have EEPs register using the Energy Workforce Equity Portal, this might provide an easier route to compliance with the MES. If your organization’s EEPs are NOT registered in the Energy Workforce Equity Portal, your organization will be required to collect signed EEP attestations and to provide documentation for those individuals’ EEP qualifications to submit to the Program Administrator.

The Energy Workforce Equity Portal can be accessed here:

Additional steps to take in preparing the Year-End Report include requesting project workforce data from subcontractors and confirming your organization’s total project workforce number. As this is the first full year of MES compliance, please keep in mind that Approved Vendors and Designees may contact the Program Administrator for support, including utilizing the Program’s office hours, for any questions that arise during the process.

MES Waiver

If, despite significant efforts, your organization determines that prior to June 1, 2024 it will not achieve the 10% MES goal for Program Year 2023-24, your organization is encouraged to request a waiver. In order to qualify for a waiver, your organization must demonstrate the outreach activities and efforts it conducted to connect with and attempt to recruit EEPs, and to detail why those efforts were not successful, ultimately resulting in noncompliance with the MES.

Waiver requests are evaluated against a scoring system, with each waiver item scored, and a minimum score of 20 points needed to grant a waiver. The template for the waiver request can be found here: Completed waivers should be sent to [email protected].

Consequences of Non-Compliance

If the Approved Vendor/Designee has not met the MES for the Program Year, the Approved Vendor/Designee will be suspended and unable to continue to participate in the Program. The Approved Vendor/Designee may be required to enter into a corrective action plan to get into compliance. An Approved Vendor/Designee may have their suspension lifted and may participate in the Program once they have achieved the requirements in their corrective action plan and achieved compliance with the MES.

Next Steps

Thank you!    
Illinois Shines Program    
[email protected]