Support Solar Generation Without Installing Panels
Community solar is an arrangement under which many customers subscribe to a single, large PV system. By subscribing, individual customers offset their own electricity use with a portion of the electricity generated by the community solar system. The project might be located near the customer or many miles away, but it must be in the same utility service territory as the customer. Community solar may be a good option for customers who don’t own their homes or who would prefer not to install solar panels at their homes.
Absent the support of subscribers, many community solar projects would never have been constructed—meaning that by subscribing to a community solar project, you are helping support the development of new solar energy generation in Illinois.
A subscription to a community solar project allows you to receive credit on your electric bill for the energy produced by that project. Through net metering, your electric bill will be credited for the community solar project’s energy production, although you may have to pay separately for your subscription.
Community solar is not the same as “green” or “renewable” supply offers from an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier. Unlike community solar projects participating in Illinois Shines, those offers may rely on renewable energy projects outside Illinois and/or projects that were developed many years ago.
Credit: Elevate Energy – https://www.elevateenergy.org/
How Community Solar Works
A community solar project is developed and installed in Illinois
You work with an Illinois Shines Approved Vendor to Subscribe to a community solar project
Once subscribed, you will receive credits on your utility bill for the solar energy produced by your portion (your subscription size) of the community solar project
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.
A distributed generation project is a solar project that is installed on the roof of your home or business or is ground mounted on the land surrounding your home or business. A distributed generation system is located on-site, behind a customer’s meter, and used primarily to offset a single customer’s electric load.
The most common options for distributed generation systems are 1) buying the system, 2) leasing the system, or 3) signing a Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”). If you lease or sign a PPA, you don’t own the system, but you still get many of the benefits.
RECs represent the environmental value of the electricity generated from solar panels, but not the electricity itself. Whoever owns the RECs has the right to say they used that solar power. Utilities must purchase RECs to meet their obligation to supply a certain amount of power from renewable energy. RECs can also be valuable to businesses seeking to be able to say that they use solar power. A home distributed generation system might generate 50-200 RECs over 15 years. By participating in Illinois Shines, you will transfer the RECs from your system to an Illinois electric utility. Selling your RECs will not affect your PV system’s production. For more information on RECs, see a video at vimeo.com/113250210.