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Illinois’ New & Improved RPS Means More Solar

Tuesday, Dec 06 2016

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By
Morgan Lyons

The Illinois state legislature passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) last week, which sets the state on a path to 25 percent renewables by 2025, including potentially thousands of megawatts of new solar.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center estimates that this new renewable portfolio standard (RPS) will require more than 2,700 MW of new solar by 2030. This is a large step forward for Illinois, which currently has only 66 MW of installed solar and ranks 27th nationally for total capacity.

The RPS update ensures a long-term plan for Illinois to become a clean energy leader through a diverse solar market. This improved RPS establishes initiatives for new community solar, distributed generation and low-income solar programs which will make up 50 percent of the new solar. Utility-scale projects will make up an additional 40 percent of the mandate, brownfield solar another 2 percent, and other PV resources will make up the remaining 8 percent.

One of the strongest aspects of Illinois’ updated and modernized RPS is that the future diversity of the state’s market means access to solar for all Illinois residents. The low-income programs and community solar facilities will allow residents of every income level, renters and homeowners alike, to go solar and contribute to the new clean energy economy.

In addition to the RPS provisions, the legislation protects net metering by grandfathering existing customers, preserving NEM up to the original 5 percent cap, eliminating demand charges proposed on residential customers and other strategies to deploy DG as a grid resource.

The Midwest region is a slowly burgeoning market for the solar industry, and Illinois is setting a legislative precedent for other states in the area to model their clean energy future after.