Vendor FAQs

General

When a program block reaches capacity, all qualifying subsequent project applications will be put on waiting list for the applicable project category. In order for project applications to be approved off of the waitlist or to be considered upon the opening of new blocks when capacity becomes available, the projects must be compliant with all Program requirements.  This includes requirements surrounding the distribution of the Illinois Shines brochure and the execution of the Disclosure Form prior to the installation contract.  Project applications that do not conform with Program requirements risk the ability to receive REC contract awards. New blocks of capacity are released at the start of each Program year on June 1st.

(Updated February 2023)

The system sizes utilized for the Program are all AC system sizes based on the nameplate size of the system’s inverter.

(Updated February 2023)

Each unique utility customer may have one project of up to 5,000 kW (5MW) AC in the Illinois Shines Program.  Two or more utility customers that are affiliated and physically adjacent could each have a project of up to 5,000 kW AC.

The total capacity of systems enrolled in the Illinois Shines Program at a customer’s location will be considered a single system. (For example, three 100 kW systems at a single location will be considered a 300 kW system.)  See the Program Guidebook for more information on co-location and associated REC pricing.

(Updated February 2023)

Under the 2019 and 2021 REC contracts, distributed generation projects are given 12 months to be developed and energized. Community solar projects are given 18 months to be developed, energized, and demonstrate that they have sufficient subscribers.

Under the 2022 REC contract, distributed generation projects are given 18 months to be developed and energized. Community solar projects are given 24 months to be developed, energized, and demonstrate that they have sufficient subscribers. Extensions may be granted under certain circumstances, as described in more detail in Section 7.11 of the Long-Term Plan.

(Updated February 2023)

Except where otherwise provided (such as with certain project-specific information being made publicly available through publishing lottery results), Approved Vendor submittals including quarterly reports, annual reports, Approved Vendor applications, and project applications will not be publicly posted or made publicly available as a matter of course – provide that nothing included herein shall a) prohibit the IPA from reporting information taken from Approved Vendor submittals to appropriate authorities should the IPA have reasonable suspicion of any fraudulent or otherwise illegal behavior, b) prevent the IPA from making aggregated information taken from across Approved Vendor submittals publicly available, or c) prevent the IPA from sharing information received with the Illinois Commerce Commission or public utilities to support the Program’s operation.

Additionally, the IPA and the Program Administrator will provide confidential treatment to any commercially sensitive information submitted by Approved Vendors in connection with participation in Illinois Shines. Under Section 1-120 of the IPA Act (20 ILCS 3855), the Illinois Power Agency has a statutory obligation to “provide adequate protection for confidential and proprietary information furnished, delivered, or filed” by any third party. As Section 7(1)(g) of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) (5 ILCS 140/7) exempts from disclosure “[t]rade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person or business where the trade secrets or commercial or financial information are furnished under a claim that they are proprietary, privileged or confidential, and that disclosure of the trade secrets or commercial or financial information would cause competitive harm to the person or business,” the IPA believes that its responsibility under Section 1-120 necessitates the assertion of this FOIA exemption when applicable in response to a FOIA request, and to otherwise protect the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information in response to any discovery request or other request made in connection with formal investigation or litigation. While the IPA will presume that submittals including quarterly reports, annual reports, Approved Vendor applications, and project applications are commercially sensitive (to the extent not reflecting public information, or otherwise obviously not commercially sensitive) and thus should be actively protected from disclosure, Approved Vendors should designate any particularly sensitive information as “confidential or proprietary” to maximize the likelihood that such information would be protected from disclosure by a reviewing body (such as a reviewing court or the state’s Public Access Counselor) in response to an appeal of the Agency’s determination that such information should not be disclosed in response to a FOIA request.

(Updated February 2023)

As of February 2023, retail rate net metering – described in more detail below – is still being offered to residential and small commercial customers of Ameren Illinois (“Ameren”), Commonwealth Edison (“ComEd”), and MidAmerican Energy Company (“MEC”) that install a distributed generation system.  It is anticipated that the replacement of retail rate net metering with a distributed generation rebate will be triggered under current Illinois law in the Ameren territory in late 2022 or early 2023, and likely later in the ComEd and MidAmerican territories.  The mechanism which will trigger the switch from retail rate net metering to a distributed generation rebate, and the process for calculation of that rebate value, is described further below.   Customers of rural electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities should check with those entities to determine whether net metering is offered in the service area.

Background

Under current Illinois law, net metering is available to any retail customer that “owns or operates solar, wind, or other eligible renewable energy generating facility with a rated capacity of not more than 2,000 kilowatts that is located on the customer’s premises and is intended primarily to offset the customer’s own electrical requirements.”  220 ILCS 5/16-107.5.  Small customers, such as homeowners and small business owners, may receive a one-for-one kWh credit for the net electricity supplied to their utility at the retail rate – that is, for both distribution and supply charges. This is known as “retail rate net metering.”  Non-residential customers, as well as owners and developers of community renewable generation projects, have the option to apply for a rebate equal to $250 per kilowatt of the nameplate capacity of the solar project; these customers are not eligible to receive retail rate net metering and instead only receive net metering credits for the energy supplied from their system to the utility.  The net metering landscape in a utility’s territory will change and retail rate net metering will no longer be available to new net metering customers once the installed net metering capacity in that utility’s territory reaches 5% of the total peak demand supplied by that utility provider in the previous year.  Instead, those customers who install a distributed generation system after that point in time would be eligible for net metering of energy supplied to the utility and to apply for the distributed generation rebate, the value for which is to be set by the Illinois Commerce Commission (“Commission”) (the State agency charged with approving utility rates) through “an investigation into an annual process and formula for calculating the value of rebates.”  220 ILCS 5/16/107.6(e).  The investigations are conducted separately by utility.

Ameren Illinois

In April 2020, upon notification from Ameren that it had reached a 3% net metering penetration, the Commission opened an investigation into the value of successor rebates for distributed generation systems in the Ameren service territory, which remains open and is ongoing.  Additional information related to that proceeding may be found at: https://www.icc.illinois.gov/docket/P2020-0738.

Ameren Illinois notified the Illinois Commerce Commission that it reached the 5% net metering threshold on October 2, 2020.  The Commission, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the matter of utility net metering, opened an investigation into Ameren’s net metering tariff (Rider NM) to determine whether Ameren had indeed met the 5% threshold as defined under Illinois law.  The Commission found that Ameren’s Rider NM incorrectly calculated the threshold and that the volume of installed net metering capacity in the Ameren service territory has not yet met the 5% threshold.  The effect of that ruling was to restore the availability of retail rate net metering for otherwise-eligible new Ameren Illinois net metering customers.  Pursuant to the Commission’s order, Ameren filed updated tariff language reflecting changes to how Ameren calculates the 5% net metering threshold on December 23, 2020, with an effective date of seven business days later.  Furthermore, the Commission ordered that Ameren compensate any customers who became net metering customers between October 2, 2020, and the effective date of the revisions to Rider NM for the delivery netting credits those customers should have received during that time.  Ameren estimates that it will reach the 5% net metering penetration under the Commission’s interpretation of the Public Utilities Act in late 2022 or early 2023.

Commonwealth Edison

In March 2021, upon notification from ComEd that it had reached a 3% net metering penetration, the Commission opened an investigation into ComEd’s net metering tariff (Rider POGNM) and its community solar tariff (Rider POGCS) to determine whether the tariffs correctly implement section 16-107.5(j) of the Public Utilities Act, which outlines the calculation of the 5% net metering threshold.  In response to an inquiry from the Commission, ComEd confirmed that under the Commission’s interpretation of the Public Utilities Act as applied in the investigation into Ameren’s net metering tariff, the net metering penetration in its service territory as of March 1, 2021, was only 1.48%. The Commission’s investigation of ComEd’s tariffs is ongoing; related documents may be found at: https://www.icc.illinois.gov/docket/P2021-0196/documents.

(Updated February 2023)

Yes, any work performed on a project subject to the requirements of the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act must be paid at a minimum the posted rate for the classification of the work performed. If the worker receives a salary, the yearly amount must be divided by 2,080 hours to calculate the hourly rate. This rate must be at least the relevant prevailing wage for the classification of the work performed. (Example $72,000.00 per year/2,080 hours = $34.62 per hour.)

(Updated September 2023)

All Disclosure Forms submitted to the Program require a customer email address. If the customer does not have an email address, the Program offers a waiver that the customer can sign confirming that they do not have an e-mail address. The Approved Vendor must submit this waiver along with the customer’s Disclosure Form. Additionally, if the customer does not have an email address, the Approved Vendor/Designee must secure the customer’s wet signature on a hard copy of the Disclosure Form.

Approved Vendors

The Program Administrator has published a set of Approved Vendor requirements. Please refer to the webpage link for all Approved Vendor requirements and additional resources.

(Updated February 2023)

In PJM-GATS an Approved Vendor can have a generator account (if they have a generator to register) or an aggregator/broker account (does not require a generator). Click here to view the various account types offered by PJM-GATS and the fees associated with those account types.

In M-RETS an Approved Vendor can have a General Subscription, a Project Subscription, a Small Generator Project Subscription, or a Micro Gen Project Subscription (only eligible for one 100 kW batch of generators). Click here to view the various account types offered by M-RETS and the fees associated with those account types.

When applying to become a new Approved Vendor, you will be asked to provide proof of an account in either PJM-GATS or M-RETS. This can be provided in the form of a screenshot taken upon logging into the chosen system, showing that your company name is registered.

(Updated February 2023)

No. The Distributed Generation Installer certification is required by all firms performing actual distributed generation installations, and as such an Approved Vendor may also be a Distributed Generation Installer. However, any entity that meets the Approved Vendor requirements can become an Approved Vendor and doesn’t necessarily need to be involved in the installation process at all, in which case they would not need to be certified as a Distributed Generation Installer. Approved Vendors can choose to work with Installer Designees for the installation work.

(Updated February 2023)

Yes, there are two requirements for distributed generation installation in Illinois. The first is a company level requirement that Distributed Generation Installers be certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). Details of this requirement can be found at the ICC’s Distributed Installers page. A list of Certified Distributed Generation Installers can be found here. Any questions about this requirement should be directed to the ICC which oversees this program. Additionally, installation of a photovoltaic system, if it will seek a REC contract under the Illinois Shines Program, must be done by a Qualified Person as defined under 83 Ill. Adm. Code § 468.20, which covers the qualifications required of the individuals who are actually installing the system.

(Updated February 2023)

The sale of an Approved Vendor is permissible. Both the previous and new owner of the Approved Vendor should notify the Program Administrator in the event of a sale of an entity operating as an Approved Vendor. The new owner and/or company will be required to enter its information into the registration record for that Approved Vendor entity with subsequent approval by the Program Administrator.

(Updated February 2023)

Yes. A project that has been waitlisted or otherwise not yet selected for a REC contract may change its Approved Vendor. To be clear, this switch of Approved Vendor could be for an individual project that is a subset of a larger batch (although minimum batch size requirements would still apply).

While it is not necessary to seek Program Administrator approval in advance of commencing this transaction, the Approved Vendor transferring the project and the Approved Vendor receiving the project (“Transferee”) must provide the Program Administrator with a binding document wherein both agree that the Transferee shall have rights to the RECs produced by the project and the authorization to represent the project for an Illinois Shines application. The documentation also must show that the project host and the project owner, if different, consent to the change of Approved Vendor.

Please note that if a project was submitted co-located with another project, it will continue to be deemed co-located after any change of Approved Vendor. As a result, any co-located pricing or array layout requirements will still apply after a potential change of Approved Vendor.  The transferred project, if community solar, could, if applicable, be newly considered co-located after being received by the Transferee. The co-located pricing provision will only be applicable if the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval of the second project is within one year or less of the Commission’s approval of the first project. If the first project has not yet received Commission approval at the time of the second project’s approval, then the co-located pricing provision will apply.

Please see the ‘Change of Approved Vendors’ section of the Program Guidebook for a complete description of this process as well as clarifications for co-locations.

(Updated February 2023)

Another Approved Vendor could obtain the rights to your project’s Illinois Shines Program REC contract, but only with the consent of your original Approved Vendor. Please see Section 9.2 of the 2019 REC Contract and Section 13.1 of the 2021 and 2022 REC Contracts.

(Updated February 2023)

No. A utility bill includes both fixed and volumetric ($/kWh) charges. Electricity from solar can offset and reduce volumetric charges, but not fixed charges (e.g., the “customer charge” and “meter charge”). Thus, even if electricity from solar were to offset 100% of the volumetric charges of a given utility bill, fixed charges would still be levied by the utility. Therefore, it is incorrect and is a misrepresentation to claim that solar can eliminate, or reduce to zero, a customer’s utility bill. Claims through an Approved Vendor’s (or its agent’s) marketing materials that participation in the Illinois Shines Program will eliminate a customer’s utility bill are not permitted and will be flagged by the Program AdministratorPlease reference the Consumer Protection Handbook for details on Program marketing requirements and representation.

(Updated February 2023)

In a case where one Approved Vendor submits a Part I application for a project, and then (before the first application is reviewed and approved by the Program Administrator and its batch submitted to the ICC for approval) a second Approved Vendor submits a new Part I application for a project at the same location, the Program Administrator will proceed as follows to resolve the potential conflict:

The Program Administrator will first investigate (including potentially contacting the site host) whether there is an intent that the multiple project applications are for separate, co-located projects (and if so, whether the co-location would be allowed under Program terms and conditions).

  • If co-location is intended and feasible, then the Program Administrator will allow for co-location.
  • If co-location is not both intended and feasible (i.e., if the two applications appear to represent the same project), the Agency will review the documents submitted with the Part I applications to determine which Approved Vendor is premising its control of RECs on an earlier-executed site control agreement (or, if both Approved Vendors rely on the same site control agreement, then which Approved Vendor has an earlier-executed REC control agreement); this Approved Vendor will be presumed to be the proper representative of the project.
  • An Approved Vendor with a later-executed site control or REC control agreement (as applicable) will be given an opportunity to furnish documentation showing that the earlier-executed instrument was properly terminated prior to that Approved Vendor’s Part I Illinois Shines application. If acceptable documentation is provided (subject to confirmation with the other Approved Vendor), then the application from the Approved Vendor with the later-executed agreement would proceed (subject to any other review and approvals of the application).

(Updated February 2023)

A change in an Approved Vendor’s banking information represents a change to the REC contract. As such, in order for the contracting utility to process the change, the Approved Vendor must provide a letter to ComEd at WB&[email protected] or to Ameren at [email protected] and [email protected], requesting the change in banking information. The letter must be on company letterhead, contain the new banking information as well as a contact from the Approved Vendor’s Treasury group that the utility can contact directly to confirm this change request, and be signed by an authorized signatory of the company. If the contracting utility is MidAmerican, the Approved Vendor must contact the utility’s accounts payable department at [email protected] to request a banking change form.

To provide for processing time, a request to update banking information (including a completed banking change form to MidAmerican) must be provided to the contracting utility at least 15 calendar days in advance of an invoicing window (e.g., no later than February 14, 2021 in time for the opening of the invoicing window on March 1, 2021). The updated banking information may be entered into the “Enter Contract Notices Contact Information” section of the Approved Vendor’s dashboard in the Program portal at any time prior to generation of an invoice.

(Updated February 2023)

Each Scheduled Energized Date extension request under the REC contract should reference the specific contract clause under which an extension is sought (i.e., which subparagraph of Section 5(b) for the 2019 contract or Section 2.4(b) for the 2021 and 2022 contracts) is being relied upon) and should avoid referencing multiple clauses in a single request (as multiple clauses may implicate multiple distinct processes and decision-makers for the request). Each extension request should include, at minimum, a brief narrative outlining the justification for the request. This narrative should clearly explain the situation under which the Approved Vendor believes an extension is warranted for the referenced systems. If extensions are being requested for multiple systems and the narrative is similar, a single extension request may be made for multiple systems (although please provide separate requests for each contracting utility).
 
The IPA also strongly encourages that each of the following be included in an extension request.
1. Approved Vendor Name (as listed in your ABP Approved Vendor portal)
2. Approved Vendor ID #
3. Designated System ID #
4. Project Name
5. Project Type (distributed generation or community solar)
6. Contract ID #
7. Batch ID #
8. Trade Date
9. Contracting Utility
10. REC Contract Clause Referenced (e.g., Section 5(b)(v)/Section2.4(b)(iii))
11. Length of Extension Requested
12. Original Scheduled Energization Date
13. Requested New Scheduled Energization Date (Rounded to the last business day of the month for Section 5(b)(v)/Section 2.4(b)(iii) requests)
For requests covering multiple systems, please include this information in a spreadsheet attached to the request.
 
Note that any extension requests under Section 5(b)(v)/Section 2.4(b)(iii) should be rounded to the last business day of the month. For example, if a system’s Scheduled Energized Date is August 19, 2020, and the Approved Vendor requests a 12-month extension under this extension clause, the new Scheduled Energized Date will be August 31, 2021, instead of August 19, 2021. Please ensure this is captured in all extension requests sought under this clause.
 
Lastly, please double-check the accuracy of all extension request information, including whether a given system is still under contract, prior to submitting an extension request. And remember that requests must be “made in writing by Seller to Buyer and the IPA prior to the Scheduled Energized Date.” Buyer contact information is contained in the REC Contract and requests to the IPA should be sent to [email protected].
 
(Updated August 2023)

Minimum Equity Standard

General

Section 1-75(c-10) of the Illinois Power Agency Act (“IPA Act”) requires that the Illinois Power Agency (“IPA” or “Agency”) establish an Equity Accountability System, which includes 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. The purpose of the MES is to ensure increasing access to employment in the Illinois clean energy sector for those who historically have been excluded from such opportunities.

The Equity Accountability System will take effect in the first delivery year after the approval of the IPA’s 2022 Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, which is the 2023-2024 delivery year beginning June 1, 2023. The 2023-2024 delivery year minimum equity standard is 10%. By June 1, 2023, existing Approved Vendors and Designees must file an annual Minimum Equity Standard Compliance Plan. Approved Vendors and Designees must submit a year-end report within 45 days of the end of the 2023-2024 program year (i.e., by July 15, 2024) that includes data on its performance compared to the Compliance Plan.

Individual plans will not be posted publicly. The Agency will release aggregated data from end of year MES reports tracking achievement of the MES across the market, but will not identify any individual entities. Compliance plans and MES reports will not be made public as a matter of course, however they may be subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Agency will provide confidential treatment to MES Compliance Plans in accordance with the provisions of Section 2.F of the Program Guidebook.

The Compliance Plan Assessment is described in Section 10.1.1.5 of the August 2022 version of the Program Guidebook. The Agency will utilize a graduated rating system to evaluate Compliance Plans. A rating of 1 (Needs Development), indicates that the entity must review, correct, and/or include missing compliance items in order for the plan to be approved. This rating indicates that the Agency identified inconsistencies in the plan, putting the applicant at risk of non-compliance, and that the plan will not be accepted without updates or inclusion of requirements that need resolution or are missing.

As stated in the 2022 Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, Compliance Plans that receive a rating of 1 will be rejected and the AV or Designee will be sent a recommended corrective action plan. If the Agency discovers an area of the Compliance Plan that needs to be amended or requires correction, the Agency will notify the applicant in writing of the required correction(s). The applicant will then have thirty days from the date of the notification to submit amendments to the Compliance Plan. Applicants may request deadline extensions that will be granted by the Agency on a case-by-case basis. After resubmittal of a corrected Compliance Plan, the Agency will notify the applicant in writing of the final re-evaluation status. The Agency will have a maximum of twenty-one days to notify the program participant of final acceptance of the Compliance Plan. The Agency will accept multiple revisions of a proposed Compliance Plan.

The Program Administrator will notify the applicant in writing of the score for their Compliance Plan within fourteen days of submission, though the initial review of the first MES Compliance plans may exceed this timeline. If corrections or amendments to the Compliance Plans are required, the applicant will have thirty days to submit amendments. Applicants may request extensions to that window that will be granted by the Agency on a case-by-case basis. After resubmittal of a corrected Compliance Plan, the Program Administrator will notify the applicant in writing of the final re-evaluation status. The Program Administrator will notify the program participant of final acceptance of the Compliance Plan within 21 days. The Agency will accept multiple revisions of a proposed Compliance Plan. The Agency and Program Administrator will strive to meet the timelines listed above, but extensions may be necessary during periods of high volumes of Compliance Plan submissions.

An AV or Designee that fails to submit a Compliance Plan by June 1, 2023, will receive communication from the Program Administrator explaining how to cure this violation. Entities that fail to cure or entirely fail to submit a Compliance Plan will be subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension from the program.

Each Approved Vendor, Designee, or Competitive Procurement Supplier must submit a year-end report within 45 days after the end of the delivery year in which they have had active participation through activities developing a project or projects. If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the year-end report will be due on the following business day. Therefore, MES compliance reports for the 2023-2024 program year will be due on would be due on or by July 15, 2024.

Yes, the Program Administrator has published a list of EEC certified Approved Vendors and EEC certified Designees that have consented to sharing contact information on the Program website.

The IPA can assure applicants that all personally identifiable information and other sensitive, confidential information shared with the Agency for the purpose of meeting the MES will be appropriately and securely handled. For more information on confidentiality of information in the Program please see Section 2.F of the Program Guidebook.

The MES Compliance Plan Template, which is available to submit as a Microsoft Form, is available here.

MES requirements are separate from the scoring for project selection for Traditional Community Scoring.

These prior Equity Accountability System webinars and resources can be found here. Those that wish to report to the Program Administrator that they viewed the webinar may complete this form.

There is no required verbiage that entities must use on job postings. However, entities are encouraged to utilize the Energy Workforce Equity Portal to foster involvement with EEPs

The threshold to qualify for the waiver is a score of 20 points or above.

Identifying EEPs

Equity investment eligible communities are geographic areas throughout Illinois which would most benefit from equitable investments by the State designed to combat discrimination. The eligible communities are: (1) R3 Areas as established pursuant to Section 10-40 of the Cannabis Regulation Tax Act, where residents have historically been excluded from economic opportunities, including opportunities in the energy sector; and (2) Environmental justice communities, as defined by the Illinois Power Agency pursuant to the Illinois Power Agency Act, where residents have historically been subject to disproportionate burdens of pollution, including pollution from the energy sector.

A map of EIECs can be found here.

The Illinois Solar for All Program Administrator, Elevate Energy, is currently updating the map of Environmental Justice communities used in Solar for All, which is one of the bases for the Equity Investment Eligible Community map. The updated EJ communities map will incorporate data from the 2020 census and updated EJSCREEN data. For more details on the methodology used to create the EJ communities map, please see Section 8.12 of the 2022 Long-Term Plan. The Agency will seek stakeholder feedback on the frequency of updates to the EIEC map in the summer of 2023 through the development of the next Long-Term Plan, which will be published for public comment on August 15, 2023. The Agency encourages all interested parties to provide input on potential schedules for updating the EIEC map.

No, the equity-eligible communities’ boundaries do not precisely align with zip code boundaries, as they are based upon other data. Employers are highly encouraged to ask employees to certify through the Energy Workforce Equity Portal to make the process simpler.

An entity reporting on the makeup of its project workforce must be able to demonstrate that an EEP qualified based upon residency resided in the qualifying location prior the completion of the project. This can be demonstrated by the date displayed on the supporting documents (such as a driver’s license or other identification, utility bill, lease agreement, etc.) or through registration by the EEP on the Energy Workforce Equity Portal. The Agency highly recommends that employers request their employees that qualify on residency to register through the Energy Workforce Equity Portal. The Agency will require an individual who qualifies as an EEP based upon residency to recertify within the portal every three years.

Persons residing in an equity investment eligible community qualify as Equity Eligible Persons. The equity investment eligible community map can be used to help assist in determining whether a person qualifies based upon residency. https://energyequity.illinois.gov/resources/equity- investment-eligible-communitymap.html

Approved Vendors and Designees that are majority owned by an Equity Eligible Person may qualify as an Equity Eligible Contractor. For more information on qualification as an EEC, please visit: https://illinoisshines.com/become-an-equity-eligible-contractor-eec-approved-vendor-or-designee/

In reviewing EEC applications, the Program Administrator will request documentation verifying the relevant individual’s previous incarceration. Clarifications are on the Program website’s Become an Equity Eligible Contractor page. Specifically, “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. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis. For EEP-individuals who qualify based upon their status as a formerly incarcerated person, the Agency strongly encourages employers to ask all of their employees to register with the Energy Workforce Equity Portal if they have concerns about asking individual employees for sensitive information regarding formerly incarcerated status.

There is no time limit on how long ago the incarceration occurred. At this time, the IPA is requesting an attestation from the individual that they indeed were incarcerated following conviction. An attestation for can be found at: https://illinoisshines.com/become-an-equity-eligible-contractor-eec-approved-vendor-or-designee/

There is no requirement that the person who is an enrollee or graduate of the foster care system was a part of the system within the State of Illinois. For the purpose of eligibility to be an EEP, a “graduate or enrollee” of the foster care system refers to an individual who is currently or was formerly a youth in care of the IL Department of Children and Family Services, or the equivalent agency in another state.

No. Only individuals who are enrolled or have graduated from the foster care system qualify as EEPs and use that status to qualify their business as an EEC.

EEPs are highly encouraged to seek certification through the Energy Workforce Equity Portal. Illinois law requires that the Program verify the status of every EEP, so submitting entities (AVs, Designees, or utility-scale developers) will need to provide those verifications with their MES year-end report, even if the EEPs did not seek certification through the Portal.

EEPs are able to certify through the Energy Workforce Equity Portal without having to reveal sensitive information to employers. If an EEP does not have access to the internet or is otherwise unable to register themselves in the Portal, they can contact the Program Administrator or their employer for assistance.

Employers should encourage employees to register on the Energy Workforce Equity Portal, which allows employees to certify as equity eligible without disclosing sensitive information directly to their employer. Confirmation of EEP designation through participation in foster care or former incarceration may be demonstrated through completion of the attestation, either through the Portal or directly with the employer.

The Agency strongly encourages employers to utilize the Energy Workforce Equity Portal to confirm whether their employees qualify as EEPs. The IPA is unable to advise AVs and Designees as to the best method of identifying such individuals within their workforce.

Although all employees in the project workforce, including employees of subcontractors, count toward the MES, the IPA does not require that an AV take any specific step to identify EEPs, nor does it advise AVs regarding the best approach for their business.

Populating the database will require individuals voluntarily adding their personal or professional information. There is no comprehensive listing of all Equity Eligible Persons in the state, so the Agency is working with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), other state agencies, and community organizations to conduct outreach to educate individuals and communities about the Portal and assist EEPs in certifying their status as an EEP. The Agency is working to make sure as many people as possible have access to this database

In order to reach as many potentially qualified EEPs as possible, the IPA and the Program Administrator are providing outreach to specific programs. The IPA is working with DCEO to obtain additional training program information and will provide that information when it is available. Please note only the Solar Training Pipeline and the Multicultural Jobs Programs created and funded by FEJA qualify individuals as an EEP due to the requirements of CEJA (P.A. 102-0662). Please see the Program website’s Equity Eligible Contractor page for further details.

Identifying the Project Workforce

EEPs can be hired at any time during the Program Year.

If there is any reason to believe that an entity is utilizing suspicious hiring practices, such as hiring EEPs for a limited amount of time solely in order to meet the MES, hiring an EEP but not assigning them any hours, or otherwise observed to be attempting to subvert Program requirements, those cases will be promptly reviewed by the Agency and the Program Administrator.

(Updated October 2023)

Section 1-10 of the IPA Act does not provide a definition for “project workforce,” however, the IPA has developed a definition that reflects the context and language in the IPA Act Sections 1-75(c-10), (c-15), (c-20), and (c-25) as well as previously IPA-published guidance regarding required workforce reporting. For the purposes of the MES, “project workforce” includes: employees, contractors and their employees, and subcontractors and their employees, whose job duties are directly required by or substantially related to the development, construction, and operation of a project that is participating in or intended to participate in the IPA-administered programs and procurements under Section 1-75(c) of the IPA Act. This shall include both project installation workforce and workforce in administrative, sales, marketing, and technical roles where those workers’ duties are performed in Illinois.

Employees that do not live in Illinois and do not work in Illinois are not considered part of the project workforce. Only workers whose duties are performed in Illinois are included in the IPA’s “project workforce” definition. Employees who perform duties in Illinois that are related to developing projects or educating consumers about program options should be included in the project workforce.

The 10% equity commitment is based on the total number of employees. For example, if an AV has 100 employees working in Illinois on projects participating in Illinois Shines, that AV must have at least 10 Equity Eligible Persons employed to meet the 10% MES. This includes both project installation workforce and workforce in administrative, sales, marketing and technical roles where those workers’ duties are performed in Illinois.

If an AV or Designee’s project workforce for a given Program Year is less than 10 people, they should aim to employ one Equity Eligible Person and provide a Compliance Plan that outlines how they will strive to recruit an EEP in the event that they hire during that year. They may also apply for a waiver. Please reach out to the Program Administrator if there are questions with compliance and support/guidance can be provided.

The MES requirements are not limited to construction. Per Section 10.1.1. of the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, project workforce includes “employees, contractors and their employees, and subcontractors and their employees, whose job duties are … in administrative, sales, marketing, and technical roles where those workers’ duties are performed in Illinois.”

If an AV has projects participating in the Program (see clarification below), any employees performing duties in Illinois substantially related to those projects must count toward meeting the MES for that Program Year, even if construction will not occur that year,. The MES applies to any work conducted in a given delivery year on projects that are participating in IPA programs.

Yes, temporary and/or part-time employees or subcontractors performing work on the project and getting paid for that work count towards the MES. The MES applies to number of individuals, not number of hours worked.

Pre-construction work, including siting and permitting, is included in the definition of project workforce and therefore counts toward the MES.

The Agency understands the primary policy objective of Section 1-75(c-10) of the IPA Act as advancing equity across Illinois by providing access to the Illinois clean energy economy for businesses and workers from Illinois communities that have been historically excluded.

Therefore, the relevant location is where the work is being performed, for both installation workers and those doing support and business services, as that is the location of the economic opportunity. Only workers whose duties are performed in Illinois are included in the IPA’s “project workforce” definition. Employees who perform duties in Illinois that are related to developing projects or educating consumers about program options should be included in the project workforce.

While the IPA understands that project labor crews and locations vary, applicants do not need to include office workers who live and work outside of Illinois in their project workforce. Such an outcome would not serve the purpose the MES, which is intended to increase access to clean energy jobs for Illinois workers.

The definition of “project workforce” does not include functions performed outside of Illinois. For example, there are many national companies that participate in IPA programs and procurements and the Agency does not believe it would be consistent with the goals of the MES to allow persons working in another state to count toward complying with a standard designed to measure the equity of the Illinois clean energy sector.

Employees That Do and Do Not Count Toward the MES

Example of WorkerShould they be counted toward the project workforce for the MES?
Designees/Nested DesigneesNo, Approved Vendors do not need to include the workforce of their Designees in their MES but shall report which Designees they worked with in the delivery year to allow the Agency to correlate activities and compliance
Temporary or Part-Time WorkersYes
SubcontractorsYes
Pre-Construction WorkYes
Admin WorkYes
One-Time Subcontractors (surveyors, consultants, etc.)Yes
Employees who do not perform work duties in Illinois (including any of the above)No

Please see the Long-Term Plan on pg. 330: Approved Vendors in the Adjustable Block Program do not need to report on data regarding their Designees but shall report which Designees they worked with in the delivery year to allow the Agency to correlate activities and compliance. This is not meant to relieve Approved Vendors of responsibility to comply with the Equity Accountability Standard, but rather to ensure that efforts are not double-counted.

If the contractor/subcontractor is itself a Designee, then the AV does not need to include those workers in their project workforce because that Designee will be submitting its own data on their project workforce. All the AV needs to do is indicate which Designees it is working with, for our own tracking purposes to make sure that Designee reports data for that project. Likewise, “nested” Designees should report on their own workforce.

If the AV’s subcontractors are not Designees, then they are included in the AV’s project workforce and the AV must report all of the demographic data associated with those workers.

To further clarify, if either an AV or Designee uses contractors or subcontractors that are not themselves a registered Designee, and therefore do not need to submit their own Compliance Plan, those workers should be included in the employing AV/Designee’s project workforce for that Compliance Plan.

Entities Subject to MES Requirements

Yes, all Approved Vendors and Designees, with the exception of those who are EEC-certified, are required to comply with the Minimum Equity Standards.

The Equity Accountability System applies to Designees. The IPA‘s 2022 Long-Term Plan provides that Approved Vendors do not need to include the workforce of their Designees in their MES but shall report which Designees they worked with in the delivery year to allow the Agency to correlate activities and compliance. This is not meant to relieve Approved Vendors of responsibility to comply with the Equity Accountability Standard, but rather to ensure that efforts are not double-counted.

If the contractor/subcontractor is itself a Designee, then the AV does not need to include those workers in the AV’s project workforce because that Designee will be submitting its own data on their project workforce. The AV simply needs to indicate which Designees it is working with to make sure that Designee reports data for that project.

If the AV’s subcontractors are not Designees, then the employees of those subcontractors are included in the AV’s project workforce and count toward the MES. If an AV or Designee uses contractors or subcontractors that are not also Designees, the AV or Designee must include the workers of those contractors or subcontractors in calculating its MES and reporting, since those contractors or subcontractors will not report on the MES independently.

Nested Designees, as registered Designees within the Program, will need to comply with the Minimum Equity Standard and submit a Compliance Plan and subsequently report on their achievement of the MES.

The MES Compliance Plan is a plan for the year ahead. The Agency understands that circumstances may require adjustments to that plan, but it should show the intention for the year.

To meet the MES, AVs do not necessarily have to work with Equity Eligible Contractors; the requirement is that their workforce must meet the MES for a given Program Year, and that can be achieved without Equity Eligible Contractors. However, the project workforce is defined to include all non-Designee contractors, subcontractors, and the employees of subcontractors. A non-Designee general contractor is included in the MES calculations, and all subcontracted workers are included in the project workforce. The AV does not need to hire the entirety of the workforce, but must ensure compliance with the MES.

Approved Vendors who are Equity Eligible Contractors (EECs) are, by virtue of their participation in the Program as an EEC, in full compliance with the Equity Accountability System and thus do not need to submit a Compliance Plan. However, EECs will need to report on the demographic and geographic data of their employees, just as other AVs do.

Utilization of the capacity in the EEC category is limited to Approved Vendors who qualify as an EEC. EEC Approved Vendors may choose to work with Designees or on their own, and those Designees may or may not be also EEC certified. However, Approved Vendors that do not qualify as an EEC but partner with a Designee that does qualify as an EEC are ineligible to participate in the EEC category. These Approved Vendors must submit their projects to another Program category. Utilization of EEC certified Designees can have an effect on Traditional Community Solar scoring. Please see more information in the Traditional Community Solar Project Selection Final Guidelines or the Program Guidebook.

Approved Vendors are only required to include their direct employees and employees of non-Designee subcontractors in the project workforce identified in their Compliance Plan and year-end MES Report. Designees must submit their own Compliance Plan and MES Report encompassing the Designee’s project workforce. IPA will include a field in the Compliance Plan form where AVs and Designees may indicate whether they are working with another AV or Designee on any of the projects in the relevant program year.

Scope of Participation in Program or Procurement

An AV is not responsible for submitting a Designee’s MES Compliance Plan, but a non-compliant Designee could affect the progress of a project in a number of ways.

If a project has yet to be Part II verified, it could result in the project not moving forward until the Designee has come into compliance with MES requirements, or the AV has ceased working with the Designee that is out of compliance.

If a Designee is out of compliance after the project has been Part II verified and construction has been completed, and the Designee is not involved in ongoing management of the system, the project will still be able to participate in the Program. If the Designee is still involved with the project after Part II verification (for example, a Designee responsible for subscriber management of a community solar project), the project is at risk until the Designee is in compliance or the AV ceases working with that Designee.

If a Designee continues to demonstrate non-compliance, the AV may be required to present a Designee Management Plan to the Program Administrator and IPA, as outlined in Section X.B.1 of the Consumer Protections Handbook. Continued non-compliance could result in disciplinary action and affect project status.

(Updated October 2023)

There are two determinations necessary for calculating whether an entity has met the MES: the size of the relevant project workforce (the denominator), and the number of Equity Eligible Persons employed in that workforce (the numerator). The project workforce is defined by the Agency as: employees, contractors and their employees, and subcontractors and their employees, whose job duties are directly required by or substantially related to the development, construction, and operation of a project that is participating in or intended to participate in the IPAadministered programs and procurements under Section 1-75(c) of the IPA Act. This shall include both project installation workforce and workforce in administrative, sales, marketing, and technical roles where those workers’ duties are performed in Illinois.”

Once the number of individuals within the project workforce has been established, an entity can calculate the portion of its workforce which must be comprised of equity eligible persons or contractors in order to meet the Minimum Equity Standard. For the 2023-2024 program year, the required percentage is 10% of the overall project workforce; that percentage will increase over time to 30% by 2030, with an already-planned increase to 12% in 2024-25. An AV or Designee may not meet the MES solely through contracting with an EEC that makes up at least 10% of the overall project workforce. Instead, the AV or Designee must include the employees of that EEC in the denominator (described above) of the calculation. The Agency will count Equity Eligible Persons employed by an EEC-certified contractor or subcontractor, including the Equity Eligible Person majority owner, 1.5 times in calculating compliance with the MES. In this way, an AV or Designee will more easily meet the MES if they contract with an EEC, but that alone will not be enough. Additionally, the IPA has determined that an Approved Vendor that subcontracts with an EEC on a project and yet is unable to meet the MES will receive additional points towards a request to seek an MES waiver for the project.

Entities that do not think they’ll be able to achieve the 10% MES goal should submit a waiver request outlining the size of their current and future workforce and plans for recruiting. Program participants are not required to replace qualified current employees who are not EEPs in order to meet the MES. If an employee leaves or the entity finds themselves in a position to hire more employees, they should have a plan in place to do so in an equitable manner.

Compliance with the MES is viewed across the totality of an entity’s Illinois project workforce, both in terms of planning and reporting. The Program Administrator and the Agency will consider any waiver granted in determining whether an entity has met the MES requirements.

To achieve the MES for the 2023-2024 delivery year, at least 10% of the project workforce for each entity participating in an IPA Indexed REC procurement or the Illinois Shines program must be equity eligible persons or equity eligible contractors. The Agency stated its intention to increase the MES to 12% for the 2024-2025 delivery year in its 2022 Long-Term Plan.

In its draft 2024 Long-Term Renewable Energy Resources Procurement Plan, which will be submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval in the fall of 2023, the Agency will propose future increases of the MES over subsequent delivery years to eventually reach the 30% statutory requirement by 2030. The proposed schedule of annual increases shall be revisited and updated on an annual basis. Revisions shall be developed with stakeholder input, including from equity eligible persons, equity eligible contractors, clean energy industry representatives, and community-based organizations that work with such persons and contractors.

Program participants must submit an annual report on how it achieved the MES for the activities in the last program year year within 45 days following the end of the program year. For projects where work spans several program years, participants should report on the work conducted in the previous year. For example, the employees that performed administrative work on a project submitted for Part I in the June 1, 2023-May 31, 2024 program year, assuming those employees did their work in Illinois, would be included in the project workforce for that program year. If the project installation for this same project did not occur until the a subsequent program year, , then the installation workforce would be included toward meeting the MES of that program year in which the project was installed.

The Compliance Plan requirement and Minimum Equity Standard will apply to work that has happened in that delivery year. As a reminder, the project workforce can include office workers if they are performing their duties in Illinois. If your project participated in the Program (e.g., you submitted a Part I application), if you have staff whose duties on the project are performed in Illinois, even if construction is not beginning that year, the Minimum Equity Standard would apply to this workforce. The Minimum Equity Standard applies to work conducted in a given delivery year on projects that are participating in IPA programs.

If an Approved Vendor or Designee (or utility-scale supplier) has no activity during a program year, that may be indicated on the year-end report and compliance obligations will not apply.

The 10% equity commitment is based on the total number of employees. For example, if an AV has 100 employees working on projects participating in Illinois Shines, that AV must have at least 10 Equity Eligible Persons employed to meet the 10% MES (Minimum Equity Standards). This includes both project installation workforce and workforce in administrative, sales, marketing and technical roles where those workers’ duties are performed in Illinois.

Energy Workforce Equity Portal

The Energy Workforce Equity Portal is a publicly accessible database of clean energy vendors and subcontractors, including Equity Eligible Contractors.

(Updated January 2023)

This portal is intended to provide useful information to those looking to work in the renewable energy sector in Illinois, individuals who are looking to certify as Equity Eligible Persons, companies already participating in IPA programs and procurements that need to comply with the minimum equity standard, companies looking to qualify as Equity Eligible Contractors, and anyone interested in learning more about what the IPA and DCEO are doing to ensure an equitable energy transition and clean energy economy.

(Updated January 2024)

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is the colloquial name for Public Act 102-0662, a piece of legislation passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker on September 15, 2021. The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, or “CEJA”, expanded and updated the existing programs run by the IPA that issue incentives for distributed solar generation projects. Those programs are Illinois Shines and Illinois Solar for All. CEJA added new provisions to those programs and to the IPA’s competitive procurements for utility-scale renewable energy that seek to ensure that the Illinois clean energy economy is inclusive and accessible to communities that have been historically excluded from economic opportunities and that have suffered disproportionate levels of environmental pollution and hazards.

(Updated January 2023)

The Illinois Power Agency, or “IPA”, is an independent state agency established in 2007 by the Illinois Power Agency Act. The mission of the Agency is the planning and procurement of reliable, efficient, and cost-effective electricity for residents and businesses in an ethical and objective manner, insulated from improper influence. The IPA also administers incentive programs and procurements to promote renewable and zero-carbon energy generation, while building an equitable clean energy future for all Illinoisans.

(Updated January 2023)

CEJA created five main workforce training programs: 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.[1] These programs are run by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Please see the workforce trainings program page of this website for more information.

[1] See Sections 5-20, 5-40, 5-45, 5-50, and 5-55 of the Energy Transition Act.

(Updated January 2023)

The Illinois Shines and Illinois Solar for All programs are the non-competitive programs that provide incentives for installing solar distributed generation projects and community solar projects. The overall purpose of these programs is to encourage the installation of solar energy projects, to reduce the cost of adopting solar for Illinois residents, and to ensure that low- and moderate-income residents have access to the benefits of solar energy, such as decreased utility bills.

These incentive programs provide payments based on the size of the project and the number of “Renewable Energy Credits” the project will generate. A Renewable Energy Credit (“REC”) is a tradable credit that represents the environmental attributes of the energy produced from a renewable energy resource. One REC represents the environmental benefit (e.g., the reduction in emissions) associated with 1 MWh of energy generated by a renewable energy source.

Approved Vendors (solar developers and contractors participating in the IPA’s solar incentive programs) receive incentives through Illinois Shines or Illinois Solar for All in exchange for the RECs produced by the project, which then count toward meeting the level of renewable energy generation required under Illinois law. The incentive payments in turn reduce the cost of the project for the resident/consumer that purchases it.

(Updated January 2023)

An Equity Eligible Person (“EEP”) is a person that “would most benefit from equitable investments by the State designed to combat discrimination,” and CEJA provided four specific characteristics that would qualify a person as an EEP:

  • Graduates or current or former participants in the Clean Jobs Workforce Network Program, Clean Energy Contractor Incubator Program, 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 multicultural jobs program created by Future Energy Jobs Act
  • Persons who are graduates of or currently enrolled in the foster care system
  • Persons who were formerly incarcerated
  • Persons whose primary residence is in an equity eligible investment community

CEJA requires companies participating in the Illinois Shines program and in the competitive procurements for utility-scale renewable projects to employ a workforce that includes a minimum percentage of Equity Eligible Persons. Thus, CEJA requires participating companies to hire workers that are members of communities that have historically been excluded from economic opportunities, and in this way accomplishes the legislative objective of ensuring an equitable and inclusive clean energy economy.

(Updated January 2023)

An Equity Eligible Contractor (“EEC”) is a business that is majority-owned by eligible persons, or a nonprofit or cooperative that is majority governed by eligible persons or is a natural person that is an eligible person offering personal services as an independent contractor.

(Updated January 2023)

Equity Investment Eligible Community is defined by statute as is either an Environmental Justice Community as defined by Illinois Solar for All, or an R3 Program Community (Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program, designated by the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax). For maps and address lookup tools for these two types of areas see the Environmental Justice Communities map on Illinois Solar for All website  and R3 Program Community map respectively.

(Updated January 2023)

Equity Eligible Contractors (“EECs”) are eligible for several benefits within the Illinois Shines program. For example, EEC certified Approved Vendors are eligible to submit projects to the Equity Eligible Contractor block within Illinois Shines, which also enables them to apply for advancement of pre-development capital for that project. Please see the EEC Contractor page of the program website for more information on how to become EEC certified and the benefits of participating in IPA programs.

(Updated January 2023)

Please reach out to the Program Administrator of the Illinois Shines program, Energy Solutions, for any questions regarding eligibility for certification as an EEP or EEC. See the “Contact Us” page of this website for more information.

(Updated January 2023)

The Minimum Equity Standard (“MES”) is the minimum portion of the workforce of an entity seeking to participate in Illinois Shines or a competitive procurement that must consist of EEPs. For the delivery year of 2023-2024, the MES is 10%. For more information, please see the current Program Guidebook.

(Updated January 2023)

Approved Vendors, Designees, and other entities seeking to hire EEPs should work with local partners such as workforce training programs, community colleges, and community-based organizations that work with returning residents and residents of equity investment eligible communities in order to identify potential EEPs.

(Updated January 2023)

Please visit CEJA-funded workforce training programs page within the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for more information about upcoming funding opportunities for establishing a CEJA-funded training program.

(Updated January 2023)

The “For Job Seekers” section of this website includes a list of currently operating workforce training programs that would qualify a person as an EEP. Please contact those workforce training programs for more information on enrollment windows.

(Updated January 2023)

Designee Registration

No, because community solar installers do not have direct interaction with end-use customers they are not required to register as a Designee with the Program.

(Updated February 2023)

Every third-party entity that has direct interaction with end-use customers needs to register as a Designee. This includes:

  • DG Installers
  • Marketing firms
  • Lead generators
  • Sales organizations


(Updated February 2023)

If your company operates as a Designee but is also an Approved Vendor, you must also register as a Designee and identify those Approved Vendors or Designees with which you work.

(Updated February 2023)

New Designees must register with the Program prior to working with any Approved Vendor. Designees can register and be connected with their Approved Vendors through the Program portal.

(Updated February 2023)

Illinois Solar for All has a process for registering third-party entities that have direct interaction with end-use customers as ILSFA Aggregator Designees and subcontractors. More information about registering with Illinois Solar for All can be found here. ILSFA Aggregator Designees and subcontractors are not required to register as Designees of Approved Vendors.

(Updated February 2023)

A nested Designee is a Designee’s Designee (Approved Vendor > Designee > Nested Designee). All nested Designees that have direct interaction with end-use customers are required to register as Designees with the Program.

(Updated February 2023)

No, use of the Illinois Shines Designee logo is not required. The Consumer Protection Handbook, published on July 14, 2022, states that “an Approved Vendor oDesignees may state the fact that it is (or working with) an Approved Vendor under the IPA’s Adjustable Block Program/Illinois Shines and may use a uniquely assigned Illinois Shines Approved Vendor logo or Illinois Shines Designee logo.”

Both the Illinois Shines Approved Vendor logo and the Illinois Shines Designee logo may be used only by an Approved Vendor or (with the Approved Vendor’s authorization) its Designees. Designees shall only use an Illinois Shines Approved Vendor logo with the express approval of the Approved Vendor. Neither the Illinois Shines Approved Vendor logo or the Illinois Shines Designee logo may be modified. Approved Vendors and Designees shall not use other forms of the Illinois Shines logo. This restriction does not apply to dissemination of materials created by the IPA and its Program Administrator. If an AV or Designee is interested in utilizing the AV or Designee logo, they can reach out to the Program Administrator.

(Updated February 2023)

The Agency has received inquiries as to whether Distributed Generation (“DG”) installation companies must be registered as a Designee. As defined in the Illinois Shines Program Guidebook, “Designee” refers to third-party (i.e., non-Approved Vendor) entities that have direct interaction with end-use customers on behalf of the Approved Vendor or another Designee. The Agency has concluded that DG installers must be registered as Designees. For purposes of registration requirements, installers of DG projects are presumed to interact with the end-use customer by working on the customer’s property, and the purpose of Designee registration requirement is to increase Program transparency.

(Updated May 2024)

RECs

This topic is addressed in section 7.5 of the current Long-Term Plan. When a project is approved for the Illinois Shines Program, a 15-year or 20-year REC obligation will be calculated for that project, depending on the project category. Approved Vendors will have the option to use either a PVWatts calculated capacity factor automatically computed by the Program portal or an alternative capacity factor based on an estimated production analysis conducted using an equivalent tool. Information on approved capacity factor calculations for use under the program can be found in Section 4(J) of the current Program Guidebook.

(Updated February 2023)

The final REC prices can be found in the Program Guidebook.

(Updated February 2023)

The payment terms vary based on the REC Delivery Contract. The below information pertains to 2022 contracts.

For Small DG, an upfront payment for the full value of the REC contract will be made to the Approved Vendor at the time the project is fully energized. The contract term is 15 years.

For Large DG and Community Driven Community Solar, 15% of the contract value is paid upfront to the Approved Vendor at Energization. The remaining portion is paid quarterly over the subsequent 6-year period. The contract term is 15 years.

For Traditional Community Solar and Public Schools, RECs are paid as they are delivered. The contract term is 20 years.

For Equity Eligible Contractors, an advance of capital may be requested via the Part I application.

For full details on the payment schedule for all block categories, please reference the Program Guidebook.

(Updated February 2023)

Project Eligibility

All applications will have to be submitted to the Program by an Approved Vendor. Larger (non-residential) systems of at least 100 kW can apply as a Single Project Approved Vendor.

For small systems that have already been built (and energized after June 1, 2017), if your installer does not become an Approved Vendor, or work with an Approved Vendor, you will need to choose an Approved Vendor from the Approved Vendor list to apply on your behalf.  Each Approved Vendor may offer you different terms and you should review multiple offers and choose carefully.

Systems will have to comply with all Program terms and conditions, which may require retroactive adjustments to the system or agreements with the installer.  Systems in the Adjustable Block Program must have been installed by an individual who is a “Qualified Person” as defined in Section 16-128A of the Illinois Public Utilities Act and Title 83, Part 468 of the Illinois Administrative Code.

(Updated February 2023)

Under the Illinois Power Agency Act, the definition of “public schools” for this Program comes from the Illinois School Code, which includes any public school, common school, alternative public school, or free school operated by the authority of the Illinois School Code, including Illinois public schools from pre-school through grade 12, and vocational schools over which the State Board of Education has authority.

 (Updated February 2023)

Disclosure Forms

For both Distributed Generation (DG) and Community Solar, the customer must receive, review, and sign the Disclosure Form before signing an installation contract or subscription agreement. Failure to secure customer signature on a Disclosure Form before securing customer signature on an installation contract or subscription agreement could result in rejection of the Disclosure Form or disciplinary action against the Approved Vendor and/or Designee. The Disclosure Form includes important information about the customer’s proposed solar photovoltaic (PV) system or community solar subscription. For DG, the Disclosure From must be generated for the customer after the customer’s PV system is designed. For Community Solar, the Disclosure Form must be generated after the customer’s community solar subscription is sized.

(Updated February 2023)

There are three options for Disclosure Form generation:

  • Directly through the Portal: The Approved Vendor/ Disclosure Form Designee enters all the information for the Disclosure Form in the Portal and generates the form there.
  • Via CSV Upload: The Approved Vendor/Disclosure Form Designee enters all information for one or multiple Disclosure Forms into a CSV document available in the ABP Portal. After the information is entered into the CSV, the Approved Vendor/Disclosure Form Designee can upload the CSV, and generate multiple Disclosure Forms at once.
  • Via API: With the Program Administrator’s approval, Approved Vendors or Disclosure Form Designees (with Approved Vendor approval) may generate Disclosure Forms outside of the Program Portal via API. This option is not currently available in the program Portal but will be a feature released in the future. Please stay tune to Program Announcements for portal development updates related to the API.

(Updated February 2023)

There are three options available for securing customer signatures:

  • Wet signature: The Approved Vendor/Designee can print a hard copy for the customer to review and sign with a wet signature. After the customer has signed the Disclosure Form, the Approved Vendor/Designee can upload a scan of the signed Disclosure Form to the Portal.
  • E-signature through the ABP Portal: The Approved Vendor/Designee can send the Disclosure Form for e-signature through the Program Portal. The customer will receive an email from the Program Administrator requesting their e-signature on the Disclosure Form, and the customer can follow the link in that email to e-sign the Disclosure Form. The Portal will automatically record the date, time, and IP address of that e-signature.
  • E-signature through a commercially available, third-party platform: The Approved Vendor/Designee can download the Disclosure Form and send it to the customer for e-signature through a commercially available, third-party e-signature platform. After the customer electronically signs the Disclosure Form, the Approved Vendor/Designee uploads the e-signed document to the Portal. This upload must also include the tracking page generated by the e-signature platform. We suggest that program participants reach out to the Program Administrator if any question exists about whether a signature platform falls within the definition of a commercially available, third-party platform to prevent the rejection of Disclosure Forms at verification check points. In-house developed e-signature platforms will not be accepted.

(Updated February 2023)

It is never permissible to edit the static text on Disclosure Forms, whether before or after customer signature. If an Approved Vendor/Disclosure Form Designee needs to update the information entered in a Disclosure Form field after the customer signs the Disclosure Form, please use the following options:

  • Generate a new Disclosure Form for the customer: In this instance the Approved Vendor/ Disclosure Form Designee would start at the beginning of the process, and the new Disclosure Form would have a different Disclosure Form ID than the previous Disclosure Form. With this option, all information on the Disclosure Form would need to be reentered. If the new Disclosure Form needs to be linked to an existing application, please email the Program Administrator at [email protected] with the new Form ID to request it be linked to the existing application. This option is available at any point during the application process.


The following two options are not currently available in the Program Portal but will be a feature released in the future. Please stay tuned to 
Program Announcements for portal development updates.

  • Duplicate an existing Disclosure Form: Approved Vendors/ Disclosure Form Designees can submit requests to the Program Administrator to duplicate an existing Disclosure Form. This will create a new Disclosure Form (with a new Disclosure Form ID), that is in the “In Progress” stage. This new Disclosure Form will be populated with all the information from the first Disclosure Form, and the Approved Vendor/ Disclosure Form Designee can update the field(s) as needed. This option is available at any point during the application process.
  • Return the existing, signed Disclosure Form to the “In Progress” status within the Program Portal: Within the Disclosure Form section of the Portal, click on the system name, scroll to the bottom, and click the “Edit Disclosure Form” button. This will allow you to revisit any sections of the Disclosure Form, update the field(s) that need to be updated, and then resend the Disclosure Form to the customer for e-signature. This generates a new version of the existing Disclosure Form, and the new version will maintain the same Disclosure Form ID. This option is only available until the application associated with that Disclosure Form is Part I submitted. The Program Portal will maintain a record of any previous e-signatures and uploads of the Disclosure Form. Approved Vendors/ Disclosure Form Designees cannot currently view this information but can email the Program Administrator to request the full history of a Disclosure Form.

(Updated February 2023)

This Customer Disclosure Form E-mail Address Waiver, which must be completed and signed by both the Approved Vendor or Designee, as well as the prospective customer, can be submitted to the Program Administrator where the residential customer considering participation in Illinois Shines does not have an e-mail address.

The Illinois Power Agency’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan provides that the Program’s Disclosure Form requirements “are fundamental to subscribers receiving standardized information,” serving as “the backbone of the Agency’s efforts to deliver uniform content about the rights and obligations under a ratepayer-funded program to everyday citizens.”  (Emphasis added.) The Consumer Protection Handbook requires that customers receive a completed Disclosure Form prior to contract execution, so that the customer has “clear information” about the offer.

Therefore, providing a customer with a Disclosure Form that has incomplete or erroneous information is a violation of program requirements and may lead to disciplinary action. In addition, noncompliant Disclosure Forms may be rejected by the Program Administrator.

(Updated February 2023)

The Agency has observed that select Disclosure Forms have included references to attachments. To ensure Disclosure Form content meets the Program’s intent of uniform, standardized content, the Agency provides the following clarification of Program requirements.

Each Disclosure Form field must be completed such that it provides the information required by the field prompt or description. A Disclosure Form field may not simply refer the customer to an attachment or other document. An attachment may be used to provide additional information beyond what is required in the Disclosure Form. For example, the community solar Disclosure Form requires, for offers with a variable rate, an explanation of the method or formula for calculating payments throughout the term of the subscription.  An Approved Vendor or Designee must complete that field with information from which an average customer could fairly be expected to calculate their monthly subscription fee. An Approved Vendor or Designee could then also provide a full rate schedule in an attachment.

(Updated February 2023)

The Consumer Protection Handbook requires that customers receive a completed Disclosure Form prior to contract execution, so that the customer has “clear information” about the offer. One Disclosure Form requirement for community solar and distributed generation leases and PPAs is disclosure of whether there are any fees or penalties for early termination of the contract.

Any requirement (triggered by early termination) that a customer make additional payments that they would not otherwise be required to make at that time counts as an early termination fee or penalty. For example, a requirement that a customer pay part or all of the future payments under the remaining duration of the contract counts as an early termination fee or penalty and must be disclosed as such.

(Updated August 2023)

A Designee can complete Disclosure Forms only if it is registered in the Program portal as a Disclosure Form Designee. To complete this registration, the Approved Vendor that the Designee is tied to must approve the Designee in that role. Designee registration is currently taking place via a form submitted to the Program Administrator via email. The form is available for download here.

If a Designee is unable to complete Disclosure Forms, please contact the Program Administrator at [email protected].

(Updated February 2023)

The baseline Program requirement is that if information provided to a customer in their Disclosure Form substantively changes, a new Disclosure Form must be provided to, and signed by, the customer, to ensure the customer has up-to-date and accurate information about their project. The Program Guidebook explicitly provides limited exceptions to this requirement for changes in AC size below a certain threshold, and a chart at the Program website addresses several additional circumstances and whether specific changes in the information in a Disclosure Form trigger the requirement to have the customer sign a new Form.

There are limited exceptions where the signatory on the Disclosure Form may vary from this requirement. These limited exceptions, along with clarifications on who should sign Disclosure Forms when the customer is a company or other organization, are outlined in a chart at the Program website.

Net Meter Waiver

Net metering allows customers to receive credits on their electric utility bill for excess energy that their solar project produces and sends back to the grid. This energy offsets energy that the customer purchases from the grid during other times in the billing cycle. Without net metering, customers do not receive credits for their excess energy production.

(Updated February 2023)

The Consumer Protection Handbook, see Section VI, prohibits Approved Vendors and Designees from making offers to customers if the customer cannot utilize net metering.

Some customers may, with full understanding of the unavailability of net metering and how that impacts overall project financials, still wish to move forward with installing solar.

There is a waiver available for AVs and Designees to make offers to install projects for which net metering is unavailable.

The following waiver procedure is available:

  1. The AV/Designee that discusses the solar project offer with the customer must ensure that the customer understands what net metering is, that net metering credits will not be available for the solar project, and how this will impact the overall financial benefits that the customer will receive from the solar project.
  2. The customer must sign the Net Metering Unavailability Customer Acknowledgement Form (downloadable as standard PDF or fillable PDF) before signing the installation contract.
  3. The AV/Designee must submit the completed customer acknowledgment form to [email protected] prior to submission of the project’s Part I application.

(Updated February 2023)

Community Solar

A list of community solar projects that have opted to be listed publicly are is posted here. Please keep in mind that projects that are in development and have not yet applied to and been approved by the  Program will not appear on the list. Also keep in mind that some of the projects here may already be fully subscribed. This list will be updated as projects opt to be added. This list will be updated quarterly and as projects opt to be added.

(Updated February 2023)

Under state law and the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, subscriptions to community solar projects must be portable (i.e., the subscriber may retain the subscription while changing locations within the same utility service territory) and transferable (i.e., a subscriber may assign or sell the subscription to another person within the same utility service territory).  The Illinois Shines Program requires that the community solar provider may not charge a fee for transferring your subscription to someone else.  These rights of transferability and portability may still be subject to other restrictions, including the community solar provider’s right to check a new subscriber’s credit score, and the utility’s right to ensure that a subscription is appropriately sized relative to the subscriber’s usage.

(Updated February 2023)

The Program Administrator has published a set of marketing materials, standard disclosures, Approved Vendor/Designee registration, and requirements for consumer protections during customer interactions community solar projects which can be found in the Consumer Protection Handbook.

(Updated February 2023)

For Community Solar projects under the 2019 REC Delivery Contract and the 2021 and 2022 15-Year REC Delivery Contracts, based on any changes to that project’s total percentage subscribed, to the Standing Order percentage shall be updated in the relevant registry after both Part II verification and Program Administrator review of each of a project’s four Community Solar Quarterly Reports. This process is as follows:

 

If the project is registered in GATS:

  1. The Program Administrator sends email to the contracting utility and Approved Vendor with a link to the revised Schedule B, highlighting any change in the Standing Order percentage.
  2. If there is a change to the Standing Order percentage, the Program Administrator sends an email to the contracting utility and the Approved Vendor, requesting removal of the irrevocable flag on the Community Solar project’s Standing Order. The email will include at a minimum, the project’s Illinois Shines application ID, registry Unit ID, and new Standing Order percentage.
  3. The utility replies to all documenting its consent. The utility then removes the irrevocable flag and replies to all confirming that the irrevocable flag was removed.
  4. The Approved Vendor cancels the existing Standing Order and initiates a new irrevocable Standing Order with the new specified percentage.
  5. The Approved Vendor replies to all confirming the new Standing Order has been initiated.
  6. The utility confirms the new Standing Order is accurate.

 

If the project is registered in M-RETS:

  1. The Program Administrator sends email to the contracting utility and Approved Vendor with a link to the revised Schedule B, highlighting any change in the Standing Order percentage.
  2. If there is a change to the Standing Order percentage, the Program Administrator sends email to the M-RETS admin, copying the utility and Approved Vendor, requesting a change to the Community Solar project’s Standing Order percentage. The email will include at a minimum, the project’s Illinois Shines application ID, registry Unit ID, current Standing Order percentage, and new Standing Order percentage.
  3. The utility and Approved Vendor reply to all confirming their consent to updating the Standing Order percentage.
  4. M-RETS updates the Standing Order with the new percentage and replies to all confirming that the change is complete.
  5. Both the utility and Approved Vendor confirm that the Standing Order accurately reflects the new percentage in the registry.

The process of registering with GATS or M-RETS should be completed in no less than 30 calendar days from the Program Administrator’s initial email to the registry. Failure to update the Standing Order in a timely fashion may have an impact upon obligations under the REC Contract.

(Updated February 2023)

Under Section 1-75(c)(1)(G)(iv)(3)(iii) of the IPA Act, Approved Vendors that are awarded a 2021 20-Year REC Delivery Contract for a community solar project that was previously waitlisted have the right under the contract to substitute the contracted community solar project(s) with other waitlisted community solar projects without penalty in the event that the project receives a non-binding estimate of costs to construct the interconnection facilities and any required distribution upgrades associated with that project of greater than 30 cents per watt AC of that project’s nameplate capacity.  The 2021 REC Delivery Contract does not provide for substitution of a project for other circumstances outside of the control of the applicant; therefore, once a project has received a REC Contract, it may only be substituted due to interconnection costs in excess of 30 cents/W AC.

In accordance with Section 7.2 of the REC Delivery Contract, an Approved Vendor wishing to make a substitution may make a written request to the Buyer and IPA within 30 days of receipt of the cost estimate to substitute a project or projects from the waitlist of equal or lesser nameplate capacity.  The request must be accompanied by the cost estimate from the interconnecting utility which demonstrates the costs exceeds 30 cents/W AC.  The written request and accompanying documentation should be submitted to the IPA via email to [email protected].  As soon as practicable after this request, the Program Administrator will provide to Buyer and Seller a revised Schedule A, Schedule C and Schedule D.

The Agency understands that other circumstances beyond the control of the Approved Vendor may adversely impact the viability of a project such that the AV wishes to substitute the project.  Therefore, after the submission of an Approved Vendor’s portfolio of community solar projects to the Program Administrator on March 14, 2021, but prior to the Program Administrator submitting a batch that contains such a project to the Commission for approval of a 2021 REC Delivery Contract for a project submitted under Section 1-75(c)(1)(G)(iv)(3) of the IPA Act, an Approved Vendor may request to substitute a submitted project with other waitlisted project(s) up to the submitted project’s nameplate capacity.  Substitution will be granted without penalty in all cases where the project receives a cost estimate for interconnection facilities and any required distribution upgrades of greater than 30 cents/W AC of that project’s nameplate capacity.  The Agency will allow substitution of projects due to other circumstances outside of the control of the applicant firm upon demonstration that project substitution is warranted, including but not limited to unforeseeable development hurdles, permitting issues, and/or restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 global health pandemic.  Approved Vendors that wish to substitute a waitlisted project for a submitted project prior to the batch containing that project having been submitted to the Commission for approval of a REC Delivery Contract should send a written request to the Program Administrator and include a copy of any supporting documentation.  As soon as practicable after a review of the circumstances supporting the request, the Program Administrator will notify the Approved Vendor of its determination.  If granted, the Program Administrator will notify the Approved Vendor that the substitution has been completed and will submit the project to the Commission for approval.  If denied, the Approved Vendor may appeal that decision to the IPA, and the original project application will continue to be held pending determination of that appeal.

Approved Vendors wishing to hold a traditional community solar project from submission to the Commission in order to determine whether a substitution of the project is necessary must make that request in writing to the Program Administrator once the relevant project(s) are Part I verified.  The Program Administrator will hold each such project for 60 days or until a substitution has been completed and will consider requests for additional time on a case-by-case basis.  The Program Administrator will work with Approved Vendors to submit projects/batches to the Commission for approval after the expiration of the 60-day window or subsequent extension.

Please note that substitution is limited to community solar projects awarded contracts upon reopening pursuant to Section 1-75(c)(1)(G)(3) of the IPA Act.  Whether substitution will be permitted under future blocks of Traditional Community Solar will be determined through the Agency’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan or requirements published thereafter.

(Updated February 2023)

As the historical waitlist for this project category has been addressed via the 2021 waitlist allocation process, the Traditional Community Solar project category will take new applications and those applications will be scored per scoring requirements discussed in Section 1.F of the Program Guidebook. Projects must receive a minimum score of 5 points to receive a spot on the waitlist. Should first day project applications not exceed category capacity, then all applicant projects otherwise qualifying shall be deemed acceptable and may qualify for a REC Delivery Contract. Should category capacity fill later in the program year, then from that point forward, only projects meeting this scoring threshold of 5 points may be considered for an eligible for a spot on the waitlist for the Traditional Community Solar category. Demonstration of continuous site control will be required to maintain a waitlist position throughout the program year and into the next program year; the degree to which this is monitored by the Program Administrator, and the manner of that monitoring, will be determined at a later date.

(Updated February 2023)

Project Applications

A system applying for the Illinois Shines Program can only be self-installed if the individual installing the system is a Qualified Person which is defined under 83 Ill. Adm. Code § 468.20 as: “Qualified person” means a person who performs installations on behalf of the certificate holder and who has either satisfactorily completed at least five installations of a specific distributed generation technology or has completed at least one of the following programs requiring lab or field work and received a certification of satisfactory completion: an apprenticeship as a journeyman electrician from a DOL registered electrical apprenticeship and training program; a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) distributed generation technology certification program; an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) distributed generation technology certification program; an Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) distributed generation technology certification program; or an Associate in Applied Science degree from an Illinois Community College Board approved community college program in solar generation technology. Project applications must still be submitted via an Approved Vendor.

Please see the Program Guidebook for the full requirements to install a Distributed Generation system.

(Updated February 2023

In response to the Program’s shift in September 2022 from a declining block price structure to an annual block structure, and in an effort to eliminate gaming opportunities, projects submitted to the Program will not be permitted to receive a REC price higher than the price available at the time of its initial submission to the Program (i.e., an application cannot be withdrawn and resubmitted in order to receive a higher REC price).

For projects selected off of a waitlist, Approved Vendors have 10 business days to decide whether to accept the block allocation. The Approved Vendor will be able to exercise this option without any further penalty, process, or the posting of collateral. If a project selected from the waitlist declines its selection by this option, then the next ordinally ranked project(s) on the waitlist will be selected along with the same terms (10 business days to accept or decline). Projects declining a block allocation will be removed from the Illinois Shines Program. The Approved Vendor may decline a block allocation by communicating its decision in writing to the Program Administrator. The application fee is non-refundable. In the case where a project has been continuously waitlisted, it will receive the REC price associated with the block of capacity to which the project is assigned.

(Updated February 2023)

Initially, systems over 25 kW were required to obtain all non-ministerial permits prior to submitting a project application. With the ICC’s approval of the Revised Long-Term Plan, other than a land-use permit for systems above 250kW AV, non-ministerial permits are no longer required.

(Updated February 2023)

While proposed projects may be submitted to both Illinois Shines and Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) (when eligible) for approval and funding, contracts will be awarded from only one program or the other. Because the potential exists that a single proposed project could be found eligible or approved by both programs concurrently, a milestone must be identified that indicates acceptance of contracting from one program and ineligibility from the other. Therefore, once a batch containing a Part I Verified Illinois Shines application has been submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval, the underlying projects in that batch will no longer be eligible for ILSFA. Any Illinois Shines application that wishes to remain eligible for ILSFA must be withdrawn prior to Illinois Commerce Commission submission.

(Updated February 2023)

Pursuant to Section 4.F of the October 2022 version of the Program Guidebook, all solar projects at a customer’s location that are owned by that customer or affiliates of that customer must be submitted under a single Illinois Shines application regardless of the number of utility accounts associated with the projects. An Illinois Shines application represents all of the systems on a customer’s parcel, regardless of the location of the utility meter(s). The location of the modules and arrays, not the location of the utility meter(s) determines the location of a project.

In cases in which two or more projects on one parcel are separately owned and serve to offset the load of separate entities, they may be submitted as separate applications. The Approved Vendor must provide documentation that those customers are not affiliated* entities and that each project has a separate utility meter.

If an Approved Vendor submits an application for a project owned by a customer and a co-located project owned by the same customer already is under an Illinois Shines REC contract, the new application will be subject to the expansion rules and pricing in the current edition of the Program Guidebook.

The intent of these requirements is to prevent gaming, such as a situation in which an Approved Vendor or customer intentionally divides up a project in order to receive higher REC pricing that might be available to a smaller system. The IPA appreciates that there may be special circumstances that apply to specific projects, particularly in rural areas and those served by rural electric cooperatives, and those situations could warrant different consideration. Therefore, the Agency will consider requests for exemptions to this requirement on a case-by-case basis. A request should be submitted via a letter (not just an email) on the Approved Vendor’s company letterhead and emailed to the Program Administrator at [email protected] who will then forward it to the Agency for consideration.

*From Section 7.4.3 of the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan: “’Affiliate’ means, with respect to any entity, any other entity that, directly, or indirectly through one or more intermediaries, controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with each other or a third entity. ‘Control’ means the possession, directly or indirectly, of the power to direct the management and policies of an entity, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise. Affiliates may not have shared sales or revenue-sharing arrangements, or common debt and equity financing arrangements.”

(Updated February 2023)

No, the Illinois Shines Guidebook requires that DG systems entered into the Illinois Shines program must include the entire output of the system. If there are multiple installations with separate interconnections, you can opt to not register the separately interconnected capacity. Any capacity of a system which is not part of Illinois Shines must be separately metered with a separate inverter.

A system can be built to be smaller than proposed in Part I if the variance is less than or equal to the  greater of 5kW or 25%, but it would keep the lower REC price commensurate with the proposed larger system and the quantity of RECs used for purposes of payment shall be the lesser of the REC quantities calculated based on: (1) the Proposed Nameplate Capacity and Capacity Factor and (2) the Actual Nameplate Capacity and Capacity Factor. For additional details please see Section 2.5 of the REC Contract.

(Updated February 2023)

Projects may, but are not required to, remain in the interconnection queue (i.e., maintain a valid interconnection agreement with the applicable utility) to maintain their place on the waitlist. This includes projects that are forced from the utility interconnection queue due to the utility’s queue management process, including, but not limited to, being forced to pay a potentially nonrefundable deposit to remain in the queue, or incurring other costs to remain on the waitlist. Any project that has exited the interconnection queue must provide proof that it has reapplied for interconnection as a condition of its selection off of the waitlist. Any project that declines a utility interconnection restudy, declines to pay a potentially nonrefundable deposit to remain in the queue, or otherwise takes an action that pre-emptively removes itself from the utility interconnection queue rather than wait for involuntary removal will be deemed to have been removed from the queue involuntarily. Such projects will remain eligible for selection off of the waitlist.

(Updated February 2023)

Site control must be evidenced through a binding contract for system purchase, lease, PPA, option, or other form. Non-binding documents such as a Letter of Intent do not meet this requirement. It’s acceptable for the binding contract to be contingent on the underlying project securing a REC contract in the Illinois Shines Program, however securing such a REC contract must satisfy that contingency, rendering the contract otherwise binding. In cases where the system owner and host are the same entity, site control can be demonstrated by a statement from the system owner and host that this is the case.

Site control must be signed by both parties, the customer, and by the Approved Vendor or installer. In projects where the Approved Vendor is the customer, such as in Community Solar, site control must be signed between the Approved Vendor and the host/landlord of the installation property. If the Approved Vendor is the same entity as the host/landlord of the installation address, only one signature from the entity is needed. If the site control is electronically signed using a third-party signature platform such as DocuSign or HelloSign, there must be verifiable watermarks on each parties’ signature, or the signature tracking pages must be submitted with the site control. If the total number of modules to be installed has changed after the customer has signed the site control, the Approved Vendor must include an updated site map with the customer’s signature, or if an updated site map with the customer’s signature is not possible, the Approved Vendor must include a change order form regarding the changes in the total number of modules with the site control.

(Updated August 2023)

All Distributed Generation systems over 25 kW AC in size must submit an executed interconnection agreement in the Part I application. Community solar systems are not required to submit an interconnection agreement in the Part I application unless selected as a point criterion, but are requirement to provide a Certificate of Completion in the Part II application.

(Updated February 2023)

Please see the Program Guidebook for the specific application requirements for the Part I and Part II applications. Part I is the initial application and Part II is for projects in an ICC approved batch when they are completed and energized.

(Updated February 2023)

Initially, a shading study was required for all projects. With the ICC’s approval of the Revised Long-Term Plan, a shading study is no longer required for project applications as covered in this announcement.

(Updated February 2023)

The application fee for Illinois Shines is $10/kW, not to exceed $5,000, per project. This application fee will be paid to the Program Administrator at the time the batch is submitted. The application fee for each project will be part of the batch submission process and the fee per project will be automatically calculated by the application portal. Application fee payments will be made through Stripe, our payment processor. Fees may be paid by wire, ACH direct deposit, credit card, or check. Fees must be paid within 10 days after the batch is submitted. If you opted to pay via check or manual bank transfer, please allow additional time for mailing and processing. The Program Administrator will confirm your payment once it arrives and update your Project Status to Paid. Credit card payments will be subject to an additional fee of 2.9% of the total payment to account for credit card processing fees and will be limited to no more than $10,000 per month per Approved Vendor.

(Updated February 2023)

Applications for each Group/Category are typically opened at the start of the Program Year on June 1. Please find the current status of each Group/Category on the Program’s Block Capacity Dashboard page. The Program is currently open for applications from Approved Vendors for all categories with available capacity with the exception of Community Driven Community Solar (CDCS). CDCS accepts applications over a 90-day period at the beginning of each Program year. For categories where program capacity is filled, projects are now being added to waitlists for the applicable project category. Please reference Section 1C of the Program Guidebook for waitlist procedures.

(Updated February 2023)

In order to provide reliable and accurate information on REC production, the meter must be capable of recording the cumulative or incremental kWh that the system produces. When an Approved Vendor learns that one of its Part II verified systems has had a production meter failure, it must notify both the Program Administrator and that system’s contracting utility as soon it becomes aware of the failure. When alerting the Program Administrator, the Approved Vendor should provide an estimate of when the meter failed, when it became aware of the failure, its expected plan and timeline for fixing or replacing the meter, and any proposed temporary alternatives for reporting production if there is a significant time before the meter can be fixed or replaced. 

(Updated August 2023)

System Engineering

No.  The project approval is location-specific.

(Updated February 2023)

Variations in the system layout between Part I and Part II are not allowed except in the cases outlined in the current Program Guidebook. Switching between tracking system types and non-tracked systems is allowed; however, the lower of the Part I capacity factor or Part II capacity factor must be used. Switching tracker types by itself is not sufficient to qualify for an exception. At least one additional criterion from the list in the Guidebook must be met to qualify for an exception.

(Updated February 2023)

All systems regardless of size must use a meter or inverter that is UL-certified with digital or web-based output display. 

Systems up to 10kW in size can use either a production meter that is accurate to +/-5% (including refurbished and certified meters) or an inverter specified by the manufacturer to be accurate to +/‐5%. Inverters with integrated ANSI C.12 compliant production meters are allowed with a specification sheet showing this standard has been met.

Systems over 10 kW and less than 25 kW in size must utilize a production meter that meets ANSI C.12 standards. Meters that are refurbished (and certified by the meter supplier) are allowed.

Systems over 25 kW must utilize a new production meter that meets ANSI C.12 standards.

Note: System sizes are AC nameplate capacity. Therefore, a system with a 10kW inverter, for example, is considered a 10kW system regardless of DC nameplate capacity of the system.

(Updated February 2023)

REC Contract

The Revised Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission on February 18, 2020 included changes eliminating the collateral withholding provisions in both the 2021 and 2022 REC contracts. This FAQ clarifies the process under the 2019 REC contract.

In order to have collateral withheld from the first REC payment under the 2019 REC contract rather than having to post collateral in the form of cash or a letter of credit, a Designated System must:

  1. Be interconnected and generating electricity as of the date of ICC approval (Trade Date);
  2. Have an irrevocable standing order with no end date initiated with the contracting utility in PJM-GATS or M-RETS within 30 business days of the Trade Date;
  3. Be Part II Verified by the Program Administrator, as evidenced by the issuance of Schedule B to Exhibit A, within 30 business days of the Trade Date;
    1. The Approved Vendor must submit Part II of a Designated System’s project application at least four weeks prior to the collateral due date to allow the Program Administrator sufficient time to review the submission and issue Schedule B to Exhibit A. 
  1. Have a request made via email by the Approved Vendor to the contracting utility requesting that the utility withhold collateral from the Approved Vendor’s first REC payment. To ensure that the contracting utility has sufficient time to process the request and recalculate the collateral amount due, this request must be made as soon as possible after the Approved Vendor’s receipt of the Schedule B and no later than 25 business days after the Trade Date. The email requesting withholding of collateral must include the application ID, batch ID, contract ID, Trade Date, interconnection date, and Approved Vendor name.

Email requests for collateral withholding should be directed to the following contacts for a project’s contracting utility, which may be different from the interconnecting utility:

If an Approved Vendor under the 2019 REC Delivery Contract elects for the 5% collateral under the REC Contract to be withheld from the first REC payment for a system, this balance will be released at the end of the contractual period for the last system in that batch. Please contact the program administrator for further details. For all other REC Delivery Contracts upfront collateral is required and cannot be withheld from the first REC payment.

(Updated February 2023)

As PJM-GATS and M-RETS create only whole RECs, the delivery obligation for each year must be rounded down to a whole REC. As a result, the sum of the annual delivery obligations almost always is less than the total 15 or 20 year delivery obligation. Having lower annual delivery obligations also conveys to Sellers the benefit of reducing the potential for REC under-delivery and commensurate collateral drawdowns.

Annual evaluations of delivery performance as described in Section 6(d) of the Cover Sheet to the REC contract are based on annual delivery obligations, i.e. each delivery year’s Delivery Year Expected REC Quantity. The 15-year delivery obligation, i.e. the Designated System Contract Maximum REC Quantity, is used in calculating payment but is not used in evaluating annual REC deliveries. Thus, a project can deliver fewer RECs by the end of the delivery term than the 15-year delivery obligation indicates and still be fully compliant with its delivery obligations under the REC contract.

(Updated February 2023)

With respect to declining to execute a contract after receiving a contract award,  the Program Guidebook notes the following:

When the Program Administrator submits contract information to the Commission for approval, that submittal will include the Program Administrator’s recommendation for approval of the batch, with a summary of factors relevant to Plan compliance and pertinent to the Commission’s standard of review for batch approval. Once a batch is approved by the Commission, the applicable utility will execute the contract. The Approved Vendor will then be required to sign the contract within seven business days of receiving it. Approved Vendors that do not execute an ABP contract after project selection, submission to the Commission for approval, the Commission’s approval, or the utility’s contract execution may face disciplinary measures impacting their status as an Approved Vendor in the Program moving forward; any such discipline will be based on the Program Administrator and IPA’s review of the circumstances under which the contract was declined.

Discipline may include a possible suspension or termination of the Approved Vendor’s status under the Adjustable Block Program. Suspension or termination will not impact an Approved Vendor’s rights or obligations under already-executed contracts or product orders, but rather it will impact its ability to submit new project applications. Generally, the Program Administrator and the IPA will review all of the circumstances informing why a contract award was declined before the issuance of any discipline. Approved Vendors should provide a detailed, comprehensive explanation for why they declined to execute any contract or product order. If circumstances genuinely outside of an Approved Vendor’s control necessitated non-execution, then discipline may have limited deterrent effect and may not be warranted, and thus the Approved Vendor’s explanation may want to emphasize and explain any such circumstances. Neither the IPA nor Program Administrator is able to provide a disciplinary determination in advance of non-execution to “pre-approve” such an action, nor can they provide a timeframe for the issuance of such determination after non-execution.

(Updated February 2023)

Although the REC Contract indicates in several places that fees and collateral are payable by the Seller, the IPA is not aware of language in the Final REC Contract prohibiting a Seller from appointing a different entity to make cash payments on its behalf.  The IPA does note that the Letter of Credit forms in Exhibit E of the REC Contract indicate that the “Account Party” under the Letter of Credit must be the same as the Seller under the REC Contract.

Regarding receipt of REC payment funds, the REC Contract indicates in several places that payment is to be made to Seller or received by Seller. The IPA notes that the Cover Sheet gives the Seller the power to indicate its account details for receiving a wire transfer or ACH payment.

(Updated February 2023)

Assignments are governed by the REC contract. As explained in the REC contract, assignments may be subject to fees, and may in certain circumstances require the Buyer’s consent to be effectuated.

An entire REC contract or any product orders/batches under a contract may be assigned in their entirety. It is not possible to assign individual projects within a product order.

Following are the steps for assignment. The Assignor is the Approved Vendor that already holds the product order(s) and wishes to initiate assignment, while the Assignee is the Approved Vendor that will receive the assignment. The Buyer is the contracting utility.

  1. Assignor contacts Buyer and Program Administrator to provide informal notice of intent to assign, including the identity of Assignee.
  2. Assignee applies to be an Approved Vendor (if not already) on the Program website. (In the case that the Assignee is a foreclosing financing party, the requirement that the Assignee is an Approved Vendor shall be waived for up to 180 days following the transfer.)
  3. Program Administrator reviews and approves Approved Vendor application (if the Assignee is not already an Approved Vendor).
  4. Assignee and Assignor execute the appropriate form of Acknowledgement. The Acknowledgement without Consent form is used if the Assignee already is a valid Approved Vendor with an existing fully executed REC contract. The Acknowledgement and Consent form is used in all other situations. Thus, one of the two versions of the form is required in all cases.
  5. Program Administrator and Buyer collaborate to confirm that Assignor has met all prerequisites for assignment:
    1. Full collateral has been posted for the subject product order(s).
    2. Thirty business days have passed since ICC approval of the subject product order(s).
    3. Buyer has received any applicable assignment fees.
      1. A fee of $1,500 is required for the first assignment of a contract or product order. If Assignee and Assignor are affiliates, this fee is waived. Any subsequent assignments of prior-assigned product orders, even between affiliates, carry a fee of $5,000. All assignment fees are payable directly to Buyer.
    4. Assignee, Assignor, and Buyer must work out together how collateral will be maintained.
    5. Assignee and Assignor have met any other requests by Buyer for additional information for Buyer to use in determining whether to grant consent (not applicable if consent is not required).
  6. Program Administrator generates shell REC contract (if needed), Exhibit A, Schedule A(s), and Schedule B(s) (if appropriate) for Assignee. Generates Schedule A(s) for Assignor. All documents are provided directly to Buyer.
  7. Buyer signs Acknowledgement, REC contract (if needed), and Exhibit A. Sends all items to Assignee. Sends Acknowledgement to Assignor.
  8. If any irrevocable standing orders have been established from Assignor’s registry account for projects in the batches being assigned, Assignor must transfer those projects to Assignee’s GATS or M-RETS account. Assignor and Assignee must ensure that the irrevocable standing orders remain in place during the transfer or are re-established post-transfer.
  9. Assignee and Assignor effect the legal assignment. Assignee countersigns REC agreement and Exhibit A. Assignee and Assignor provide copies of fully executed documents to Buyer along with proof that any projects with irrevocable standing orders have been transferred to Assignee’s registry account and that those irrevocable standing orders have been maintained or re-established post-transfer.
  10. Upon confirming that all requirements have been completed, Buyer notifies Program Administrator that the assignment is complete.
  11. Program Administrator updates the Illinois Shines database, moving subject product order(s) from Assignor’s REC contract to Assignee’s REC contract.

Note that an Approved Vendor may, without consent, collaterally assign or pledge the revenue stream of a REC contract or product order(s), or collaterally assign the REC contract itself, in conjunction with financing or other financial arrangements. The Approved Vendor must provide notice to the Program Administrator and Buyer of such a collateral assignment or pledge, including the identity and contact information of the financing party obtaining collateral rights. Also note that collateral assignment of the contract, and any associated time period for a financing party to conduct the collateral assignment of the contract, should operate in the same manner for EEC AVs as it would for non-EEC AVs.

(Updated February 2023)

In order to allow the Program Administrator sufficient time to verify the application, Approved Vendors should submit distributed generation Part II applications no later than four weeks prior to the opening of an invoicing window. For community solar projects, because of the more complex verification process that includes validating subscriber data, Approved Vendors should submit Part II applications no later than six weeks prior to the opening of an invoicing window.

(Updated February 2023)

The REC Contract governs the requirements surrounding the review of quantities of REC deliveries, including the application of any RECs included in the Delivery Year Surplus Amount to any Delivery Year Shortfall Amount. Surplus RECs will be applied to any shortfall, and any shortfall that remains after the application of the surplus will result in the drawdown of an Approved Vendor’s posted Performance Assurance.

In the case of a shortfall of RECs after the application of Surplus RECs resulting in a subsequent Drawdown Payment, the RECs Delivered will be adjusted to reflect that the RECs Delivered in each of the three Delivery Years of a Delivery Year REC Performance equals the Expected REC Quantity for those Delivery Years for the purposes of reviewing the quantities of subsequent REC Deliveries. In this way, an Approved Vendor is not penalized for the same shortfall of RECs Delivered in subsequent 3-year rolling averages.

Additionally, a 3-year rolling average that results in the shortfall of a number of RECs that is not a whole number will be rounded down to the nearest whole REC, since it is not possible to create or deliver a fraction of a REC. If a 3-year rolling average results in an over-delivery of RECs, any fractional RECs will be carried forward until such time as the fractions add up to a whole REC.

In the example below, for a project with a delivery obligation of 100 RECs annually, 20 RECs are delivered in the first year, 110 in the second year, and 120 in the third year, resulting in a 3-year rolling average of 83.33 RECs ((20+110+120)/3) at the end of year 3. This number gets rounded down to 83 whole RECs, resulting in a shortfall of 17 RECs (delivery obligation of 100 RECs minus 83 RECs delivered). After a drawdown to cover the 17 RECs that were not delivered, 100 RECs will be deemed to have been delivered in year 1, 100 RECs will be deemed to have been delivered in year 2, and 100 RECs will be deemed to have been delivered in year 3, exactly meeting the delivery obligations for each of the component years of the 3-year rolling average. Subsequently, if 100 RECs are delivered in year 4, this results in a 3-year rolling average of 100 RECs ((100 from year 2 + 100 from year 3 + 100 from year 4)/3).

(Updated February 2023)

If an Approved Vendor learns that one of its Part II verified systems has been offline (no longer electrically connected to the distribution system or no longer delivering power to either an on-site load or to the distribution grid) for one month or longer, it must notify both the Program Administrator and that system’s contracting utility. If appropriate given the specific circumstances for which the system is offline, the Approved Vendor may consider making a force majeure claim under the REC contractor or request a reduction in REC delivery obligation under the REC contract.

If the system remains offline for more than three months, the Approved Vendor must notify the contacting utility, Program Administrator, and IPA. The contracting utility and IPA will then evaluate if the system is in material non-conformance with the requirements of the Program under the REC contract, and if any repercussions may be applicable, including pausing payment on any unpaid amounts under the Program. Please direct any questions to the Program Administrator at [email protected].

(Updated February 2023)

According to the Program Guidebook “An Approved Vendor may request for a system’s annual REC delivery obligations to be reduced mid-contract. The Buyer and Seller would then seek to negotiate a settlement payment as part of the reduction in delivery obligations; the Buyer would not be required to ultimately accept the request.” Further, “To reduce or suspend delivery obligations under the REC Contract, Approved Vendors must demonstrate attempts to cure the situation and demonstrate that reasonable and timely measures have been taken to cure the situation. In cases of systems not performing at the level expected in absence of force majeure events, Approved Vendors may request a reduction in delivery obligations in exchange for the return to the utility of a payment adjusted to account for all undelivered RECs at the original delivery level as the time of the request.” Requests to reduce REC delivery obligations should be made on the company letterhead of the respective AV, with a signature from someone with decision making authority. The following information must be included in the request:
  1. Date request is being made
  2. Vendor ID
  3. System ID
  4. Detailed reason for the proposed REC reduction
  5. The proposed quantity of RECs to be reduced (ex. 500 RECs were promised, only 300 RECs will be delivered)
  6.  Requested new Contract Nameplate Capacity
    1. For systems permanently going offline, the new Contract Nameplate Capacity should be calculated to correspond to actual number of RECs delivered to date.
    2. For systems continuing operation at a reduced capacity, the Approved Vendor must provide a new Contract Nameplate Capacity.
  7. Value of the payment adjustment that is required, calculated by the multiplicative product of the Contract price and the REC Reduction Quantity
Any AVs who are unsure of how to calculate these values may state so in their request and receive assistance from the PA in this regard. The AV must notify the IPA, the respective contracting utility, and the Program Administrator via the following email addresses in order for the request to be processed: Program Administrator: IPA:  Utility:  (for ComEd),  (for Ameren), (for MidAmerican) (Updated August 2023)