The distributed generation and community solar programs established by the landmark Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) will help ensure that the benefits of solar generation are enjoyed throughout Illinois – including in communities that haven’t historically seen jobs and economic investment tied to renewable energy. FEJA’s Adjustable Block and Solar for All Programs incent the expansion of distributed energy resources (DERs) by compensating solar developers and program participants for the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the electricity generated by their solar arrays. In doing so, Illinois adds to the economic value associated with owned and shared renewables, as participants are already compensated for the electricity their solar facilities contribute to the grid. Thus, Illinois enables two avenues of revenue tied to renewable generation: bill credits for the electricity itself, and compensation for the renewable attributes associated with that electricity.
As these programs take off and implementation ramps up, it is worth keeping an eye on several upcoming dates.
Highlight: Stakeholder Engagement
Particularly noteworthy are the Solar for All stakeholder engagement sessions planned over the coming months. Stakeholder engagement refers to the process of involving anyone "with a declared or conceivable interest" in a project's planning and implementation to ensure consideration of diverse perspectives and, ultimately, allow for the program's most effective implementation.
The stakeholder engagement process is especially critical in the context of the Solar for All Program, which specifically aims to "incent low-income participation in solar photovoltaic projects" and "ensure more equitable access to the benefits of clean energy." Low-income communities, communities of color, and environmental justice communities have historically faced obstacles to participation in governance and the transition to a clean energy economy. Robust stakeholder engagement in the Solar for All Program is one means of bolstering these communities' involvement in decisions that affect all Illinois residents.
Highlight: Workforce Training Recruitment
It is also worth highlighting the upcoming recruitment opportunity related to FEJA's Solar Jobs Training Pipeline. FEJA aims to extend the long-term employment benefits of renewable energy development to communities throughout Illinois. As such, the law established a suite of workforce training programs that specifically aim to recruit trainees within "economically disadvantaged and or environmental justice communities, alumni of the Illinois foster care system, and returning citizens." Thus, these key developments in the Adjustable Block and Solar for All Programs provide opportunities for Illinois residents of all backgrounds to take action.
Register for the upcoming recruitment session, which takes place on January 8, 2019 at 10:00 AM CT, here.Timeline Media Credits: Zak Zak, CC BY 2.0, https://bit.ly/2S7VBL9. University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, CC BY 2.0, https://bit.ly/2rvq622. Clean Energy Resource Team, CC BY-NC 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mncerts/38758449155. UUSC Environmental Justice Program, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, https://bit.ly/2UABkj5. Steve Wilson, CC BY-NC 2.0, https://bit.ly/2rENYjI.