The Illinois Power Agency (IPA) continues to move forward with implementation of the state’s Adjustable Block Program for distributed generation and community solar projects. On November 28, IPA released an updated procedural framework for the program’s lottery system. As discussed in an earlier post, the need for a lottery process to select participating projects itself indicates Illinois residents’ strong interest in contributing to the state’s clean energy economy. This interest serves as a signal to other states to follow Illinois’ lead in addressing climate change head on – especially in the wake of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, another reminder of the urgency of now.
The updated lottery framework addresses an important challenge encountered early in the Adjustable Block Program’s implementation: managing “the intense competition developers face for a chance to participate.” IPA’s revised rules eliminate a solar developer’s ability to transfer a lottery-awarded contract to another, non-lottery-winning project in the developer’s portfolio after the lottery has taken place. In doing so, IPA eliminates the risk that developers might “submit projects which … could never be developed but were nevertheless submitted in the hope of receiving a 'winning' position in [IPA's] lottery ... and later swapping that project out for a viable project.” Thus, the revised lottery ensures a more natural level of competition and restricts potential “gaming behavior” on the part of developers.
The rule revision is also notable in that IPA avoided the need to impose a pre-lottery bid collateral requirement (in other words, a security deposit) similarly aimed at limiting the submission of non-viable projects. In this way, IPA recognized that a such a requirement would “unfairly penaliz[e]” smaller developers with less access to capital and run contrary to Illinois’ stated goals of expanding and diversifying the participants in renewable energy generation. The Illinois Solar for All Program – also advancing in its implementation phases – will further advance this goal.
Continued momentum on the implementation of Illinois’ renewable energy programs bolsters the state’s standing as a climate leader. The future is bright for clean energy in Illinois. And with Governor-elect Pritzker’s pledge to commit the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050, it’s only getting brighter.