Community solar, PACE policies moving forward in Illinois

Community solar in Illinois has made another step forward in the long slog to implementation with the filing by ComEd of a tariff with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) on August 15 requesting that the requisite riders for community solar be added to existing net metering and related riders.

The rider in the tariff, POGCS, will include provisions for both the provider, or developer, of community solar projects and the beneficiaries, or subscribers, without which projects cannot go forward until both conditions are satisfied. This is the latest action in a process that began with enactment of the Future Energy Jobs Act on December 7, 2016, which took effect on June 1, 2017.

ComEd has requested approval from the ICC by September 29, and for the tariff to take effect on October 9th.  Several intervenors have filed in this tariff so far including the Illinois Power Agency, Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Illinois Competitive Energy Association.

Initial concerns include lack of specifics in how pricing will be handled, how low and moderate income households will specifically benefit from the tariff, the forbidding of having both a solar net metered account and participating in the community solar tariff, and concern of cost shifts of the tariff to different rate groups. A pre-hearing is scheduled by an ICC Administrative Law Judge on September 1, 9 AM in Chicago.

Of less attention but also important in Illinois is the passage of legislation to enable Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which was signed into law on August 11 by Governor Rauner and is based on the bipartisan House Bill 2831. PACE is a tool to finance energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy systems, including solar, for residential, commercial and industrial property owners.

PACE must be enabled by county legislation to take effect, and projects must be made in cooperation with local government units. Eligibility is for industrial, commercial, non-residential agriculture and multi-family (5 units or more) properties, not single to four units residences. Funding and repayment will take place through property tax assessments and may be backed up by bond issuances.