Special Announcement: Update on Application Processing Delays and Program Administrator Plan to Resolve Application Backlog

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Energy Solutions, the Program Administrator for Illinois Shines since July 1, 2022, acknowledges that Approved Vendors and Designees should expect timely project application submission review, and approval. This is essential to support the development and energization of projects and the subsequent invoicing and REC payments. Program participants have been experiencing significant challenges and delays with these processes, which have tangible impacts to their business operations, and Energy Solutions takes responsibility and apologizes for this situation. These delays are the result of a combination of factors related to the transition of Program Administrator last year, including the need for significant portal development efforts to enable and enhance application submission and processing and the building of the required team to support these activities. We regret these delays, the negative impacts they have caused, and the erosion of confidence in the Program that stakeholders are experiencing as a result. We are committed to resolving these issues and reestablishing Illinois Shines as a premier program nationally for incenting the development of new solar projects for homes and businesses.
With the implementation of recent portal enhancements and staff onboarding, Energy Solutions is now ready and able to expand our application processing capacity.  Below are details of our plan and forecasted volumes, by week, to resolve the current application backlog by early May 2023.  The plan includes increased staffing and process automation coupled with detailed commitments and the publication of multiple weekly status updates.
-Sam Cohen
Staffing Increases and Oversight
In January 2023 we began implementing significant Program enhancements, including Program-wide staff increases and additional staff dedicated to application processing. In February, we added the equivalent of five additional full-time employees to the applications team who are responsible for application review, quality assurance of application reviews, resolving “Need Info” requests, application verification, and first-level supervision on application processing activities.  By the end of March, the applications team will be the equivalent of 40 full-time employees, and by mid-April, this will increase to 44 full-time employees to meet current needs and to address the application backlog.
Our executive and senior leadership is actively overseeing the remediation of the application backlog and is providing necessary support and resources to prioritize this work. In addition to augmenting the applications team staff, we have re-directed over forty additional Energy Solutions staff to support Illinois Shines across all Program areas.
Portal Developments
The newly developed application portal was opened for Part II application submissions on December 15, 2022.  At that time, our staff began reviewing Part II applications, however, there have been limitations in the portal that have kept Part II applications from being fully verified. As of this week, features needed to fully review Part II applications have been completed and full processing of Part II applications has been enabled.
Backlog Review Schedule – Example Provided below for Small DG
While the largest volume of backlogged applications is in the Small DG category, we are committed to addressing the backlog of all submitted applications across all project categories. Based on the increases in allocated staff, we forecast an increase in review of 120 – 300 additional applications per week across all categories.  We project the following schedule that will bring Small DG application review current to published timelines; we will provide similar schedules for other project categories including Large DG in the next week:
Part I Small DG – As of March 13, 2023, the backlog of Part I Small DG applications received to date awaiting review and verification is 4,139:
Part I Small DGVolume of New Incoming Part I ApplicationsProjected Volume to be ReviewedProjected End of Week Queue (Backlog + New - Reviewed)Reviewing Apps Submitted Week of
Week of 3/13/231004003,83911/7/22
Week of 3/20/233106003,54911/21/22
Week of 3/27/233108503,00912/19/22
Week of 4/3/233108502,4691/23/23
Week of 4/10/233108501,9292/6/23
Week of 4/17/233108001,4393/6/23
Week of 4/24/233108009493/20/23
Week of 5/1/233108004594/24/23
Note: Forecasted incoming and review volumes are based upon historic averages; we will adjust resources to meet variations in volume.
Part II Small DG – As of March 13, 2023, the backlog of Small DG Part II applications received to date awaiting review and verification is 3,320:
Part II Small DGVolume of New Incoming Part II ApplicationsProjected Volume to be ReviewedProjected End of Week Queue (Backlog + New - Reviewed)Reviewing Apps Submitted Week of
Week of 3/13/232258002,74512/19/22
Week of 3/20/232256002,3701/2/23
Week of 3/27/232256001,9951/23/23
Week of 4/3/232256501,5702/6/23
Week of 4/10/232256501,1452/27/23
Week of 4/17/232256507203/13/23
Week of 4/24/232256502954/17/23
Note: Forecasted incoming and review volumes are based upon historic averages; we will adjust resources to meet variations in volume.
Our Commitments
  • Working Through Application Backlog – With application team and tool enhancements, we commit to resolving the current backlog by early May 2023.
  • Achieve an Average 2-week Turnaround Time on Applications by Fall 2023 – We further commit to reaching a 2-week turnaround time for application review by Fall 2023 (not including Need Info requests for application corrections from Approved Vendors).
  • Continuous Oversight of Application Processing Speeds and Resource Reallocation – We are committed to continuous review of application processing speeds, and to adding or shifting additional resources as necessary. At the same time, core and date-specific Program dates and milestones, including the opening of Program Year 2023-2024 on June 1, 2023 for new applications, will proceed without interruption.
  • Continuous, Improved Communication on Processing Rates – In addition to accelerated application processing, we will improve the visibility and communication relating to application review progress. This will include the following improvements to the Application Processing table data on the Program website beginning the week of March 20, 2023:
    • Update the Application Processing table three times per week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
    • Separate reporting for Part I and Part II application data by category and group
    • For each project category, group, and application part type, provide a detailed breakout on the number of applications remaining in the queue each week, and the date range of submitted applications projected for review that week (e.g., For week of 3/27/23, expected review of applications submitted to PA on 1/9/23)
Energy Solutions sincerely regrets the challenges Program participants have faced related to long application processing times. Based on recently completed changes and enhancements, we are prepared to restore confidence in the Program’s ability to rapidly process project applications. Energy Solutions is committed to the success of Illinois Shines with AVs and Designees, consumers, and other stakeholders. We thank you immensely for your patience.
Please reach out to us with any questions regarding applications or application processing here:  or (877) 783-1820.