The Illinois Solar for All Program—one of the most innovate elements of the state’s 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act—is now open for project submissions. Solar for All helps ensure that low-income, environmental justice, and other marginalized communities have access to the broad benefits of renewable energy generation. It does so through specialized incentives, workforce training initiatives, and grassroots education campaigns aimed at low-income and environmental justice communities.
The program’s Approved Vendors can now apply for funding—in the form of long-term renewable energy credit (REC) contracts—for distributed generation (rooftop solar) and community solar projects that will serve low-income and environmental justice communities throughout the state.
The Solar for All Program is related to the Adjustable Block Program, the state’s general market program for distributed generation and community solar, which opened for project submissions on January 31, 2019. Loyal readers of my blog will recall that the ABP opening met an influx of project submissions, pushing the Illinois Power Agency to implement a lottery to select recipients of large DG and community solar projects. That lottery took place last month and awarded contracts to 112 projects across the state, from McHenry to Olney.
Like the Adjustable Block Program, Solar for All may quickly reach its project limit. But unlike the Adjustable Block Program, Solar for All will rely on a ranked project selection protocol (rather than a lottery) should developers submit more projects than the program can initially fund. If that occurs within 30 days, the process occurs as follows.
Program Administrators (the Illinois Power Agency and Elevate Energy) will first evaluate projects located in environmental justice communities (as previously designated by the program). Administrators have earmarked 25 percent of total program funds for these projects. Any projects eligible for this round but not selected move on to the next rounds. Program Administrators will then evaluate projects located in low-income communities (again, as previously designated by the program). Another 25 percent of total program funds are reserved for these projects. And again, any projects eligible for this round but not selected move on to the next round. Finally, Program Administrators evaluate any remaining projects.
Within each of the three rounds, projects are awarded points according to a variety of criteria (their utility service territory, size, location in low-income and environmental justice communities, involvement of minority- and women-owned businesses, etc.). Those projects with the highest scores will then be awarded REC contracts. By utilizing an evaluation system rather than a lottery, the state hopes to select the projects that best meet the program’s goals of extending the broad benefits of the renewable energy transition to diverse communities.
To follow further program developments, keep an eye on the Solar for All website.