Illinois Shines places priority on educating and informing customers about all aspects of their decision to go solar, including the significant financial commitment of solar installation. Net metering is a billing mechanism whereby customers earn credit for the power their system produces that is sent to the grid for others to utilize. ComEd, Ameren, and MidAmerican are required to provide customer bill credits for excess energy produced by their solar system. Based on their financial structure, some rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities and Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers (ARES) in Illinois limit access to net metering or do not offer net metering credits, and in some cases these entities offer a crediting approach, which may or may not meet Illinois Shines requirements that they be “substantially comparable” to net metering.
Customers should be provided relevant information about net metering or related credits, in order to properly evaluate a decision to install solar, as this information impacts the financial considerations associated with the customer’s investment as well as their monthly average outlay for electricity. If the interconnecting utility does not offer net metering or a credit approach that is at, or close, to the retail rate, this information should be reviewed with the customer, and customers should be presented with, and asked to execute, the Program’s Unavailability of Net Metering Credits Customer Acknowledgement Form (fillable form and static form), which should then be attached to a submitted project application.