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PV Magazine: Getting solar power in Illinois beyond FEJA

Posted by Mark Burger on Apr 23, 2018

PV Magazine reports:

Illinois’s solar market under the Future Energy Jobs Act is just getting started, but a business group is calling for the next governor and state legislature to provide less restriction and more action in community and distributed solar programs.

In a new paper, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is calling on Illinois to build on its recent success in solar and other progressive energy applications to catalyze a transformed economy. AEE’s Advanced Energy Road for Illinois: How The Next Governor Can Make Illinois’ Energy System More Secure, Clean and Affordable – and Drive Jobs and Economic Development recognizes renewable energy achievements such as the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), but points out that actions like FEJA will only carry Illinois so far. AEE argues that more substantial leadership will be needed in the coming years to go beyond achieving the 2025 goal of 25% renewable electricity.

The AEE paper notes that in 2017 Illinois generated around 7% of its electricity from renewable sources, less than half the national average. Wind power is the primary renewable source, with PV representing less than 0.1% of generation. And both of these metrics are below the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) goal for 2017 of 8.625% from wind power and 0.115% from PV.

2017’s Future Energy Jobs Act is expected to result in an enormous boost of 3,000 additional megawatts (MW) from distributed and utility solar by 2030, in addition to 1,700 MW of new wind capacity. By 2022, Illinois’ installed solar capacity could reach 1,700 MW, which should move its ranking into the top half of states, after languishing for over a decade.

However, AEE has pointed out a number of limitations that could keep Illinois from achieving its full potential as the sixth-largest energy user among U.S. states, as well as its ability to provide an equitable distribution of installations, economic development and customer savings.

Community solar was identified as one example. The AEE paper notes that FEJA legislation essentially caps community solar at 400 MW of capacity, with a maximum individual installation size of 2 MW and no individual or company subscribing to more than 40% of a system output. The overall program cap could easily be hit, given the current interconnection queue of hundreds of installations and megawatts.

AEE Illinois Policy Director Daniel Bloom argues that lifting community solar restrictions would enable all subscriber segments to be served, as well as providing for a more equitable distribution of installations and the economic development benefits they will bring. This is particularly true for disadvantaged populations and environmental justice communities...

See the entire PV Magazine story here.

Topics: AEE In The News