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The Illinois Shines Program

What is the Illinois Shines Program? This Adjustable Block Program is helping Illinois reach their goals in the Future Energy Jobs Act through Community Solar.

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Understand the Illinois Shines Program

Illinois Shines is designed to help bring forth the renewable energy goals set in the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) through a new solar energy solution: Community Solar. FEJA went into effect June 1, 2017 and was established to not only support solar energy projects in the state of Illinois, but also laid the groundwork to help the state hit its goal of 25% renewable energy generation by 2025 and create thousands of clean energy jobs. For Illinois to hit this goal, solar had to become more available, more practical, and more easily accessible. Enter the ABP. Run by the Illinois Power Agency  (IPA) through its Program Administrator, InClime, Illinois Shines specifically incentivizes solar development.

Here’s how it works. The Illinois Shines promotes customer education on the Community Solar business as a whole , like in this brochure. The program helps the residents of Illinois by keeping energy rates lower through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the solar developers and operators by the local Illinois utilities like Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Ameren as mandated by FEJA. The “Adjustable Block” name derives from how pricing will be adjusted for successive volumetric blocks based on market response. You can read more about how the pricing for renewable energy credits works here.

Illinois residents interested in contributing to the growth of renewable energy in Illinois are offered two options to participate in the Illinois Shines Program:

Option 1 – Residential Solar:

Homeowners can choose to have a new solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on their rooftops or property. This method involves having solar panels installed by a solar installer that has been approved by Illinois Shines. The concept behind this type of solar installation is that after an initial investment into the solar panels and installation, you will save money by offsetting your energy usage. Rooftop solar installations require various home qualifications including minimum shading, roof age and capacity, and often HOA approvals.

There are also upfront costs that are sometimes prohibitive, even though the price has gone down over time. After installation, the PV system must be maintained throughout the year.

Option 2 – Community Solar:

Homeowners who do not want to have solar panels installed on their rooftops, or renters who cannot do so, but are still interested in renewable solar energy have the option to subscribe to Community Solar farms. With Community Solar, you would choose an approved vendor like Clearway Community Solar and subscribe to a Community Solar Farm that delivers solar energy directly to your local power grid. In return, you would receive bill credits applied directly to your ComEd or Ameren utility bill. With Clearway’s program, savings are guaranteed: subscribers pay Clearway for the solar credits, but only pay 80% of the utility’s value of the solar credit, or $.80 cents for every $1.00.

While both methods are optimal ways for Illinois residents to help bring renewable energy to the state, the Illinois Shines program truly spotlights Community Solar as a future solution due to convenience. Thanks to the Illinois Shines Program, Illinois has a great chance to hit its renewable energy goals, and even exceed them as more solar developments grow. Illinois Shines and the IPA ensure the guidelines for Community Solar companies to operate with a firm focus on consumer protections. Every Community Solar program may be designed differently, but all will play by the same rules, thanks to the work of the IPA.

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