Illinois SREC administrator approved, community solar gathers steam

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More pieces of the Illinois solar market being propelled by the Future Energy Jobs Act are falling into place. The Illinois Power Agency (IPA) has selected InClime, a Maryland based business in program, proposal and market management, as the Program Administrator for its Adjustable Block Program. This selection was approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission on July 12th, and will enable the IPA to go forward with selecting projects for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) in the upcoming auctions later this year for distributed generation and community solar installations.

The selection process will be interesting as there are an estimated 1,000 MW of community solar projects in the ComEd interconnection approval pipeline alone. The SREC funds available in the initial rounds can supply only a fraction of this pipeline, which does not include Ameren Illinois numbers, or utility-scale projects above 2 MW of capacity. Projects that have completed the permitting interconnection, financing, subscription management steps and other requirements may still face selection by lottery. The other Program Administrator to be retained, for the low and moderate income Illinois Solar For All Program, is expected to be approved and announced in August.

Community solar developers and potential subscribers in Illinois continue to move forward in anticipation of SREC funding and other stages of approval. One of the interesting markets for community solar are municipal aggregations, where local government units can negotiate for the purchase of electricity for its residential and eligible small commercial accounts. Over 100 Illinois local governments have active or inactive municipal aggregation programs. One market segment is for municipalities themselves to have community solar installations account for the electricity of some or all of their internal accounts. Another segment is having the designated supplier of the electricity to the government unit designate some or all of their electricity for residential and small nonresidential accounts from community solar installations.

As the Illinois community solar market matures, organizations are finding ways to support the numerous projects which are scheduled to come on line, beginning in 2019. One entity, The Accelerate Group, is developing a website that will act as a clearinghouse for community solar projects in Illinois. The site, called Solar In The Community, is a partnership of the Environmental Defense Fund, Illinois Citizens Utility Board and Elevate Energy of Chicago. Solar In The Community will act as a portal for Illinois electricity customers interested in being community solar subscribers, community solar developers to market their installations and terms and conditions for subscriptions, and third parties like community groups that are looking to create local community solar partnerships. The site is for information only, and cannot conduct any transactions. It is planning on a September launch with projects and proposals and is now accepting pre-registrations .