Five months after the passage of Illinois’ landmark clean energy law, solar businesses have installed enough renewable energy to power 30,000 homes and are building a more diverse workforce with the help of job training programs.
Data provided by members of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois Solar Energy Association, and the Coalition for Community Solar Access and the Illinois Power Agency found 2022 is on track to be one of the biggest years for solar energy in Illinois’ history. The renewable energy industry plans to complete more than 8,400 additional solar installations and increase its workforce by nearly 50% in 2022.
The progress is due in large part to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) that was enacted in September 2021. CEJA sets the long-term goal of 100% clean energy in Illinois by 2050 but also provides immediate steps that help accelerate the renewable energy transition that’s already underway in Illinois.
Data from the Illinois Power Agency shows that 8,052 waitlisted solar projects have moved forward and are expected to be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission in February. In addition, 250 MW of new community solar projects have been approved; when completed, these projects will allow an estimated 35,000 families to lower their electric bills without installing solar panels.
A survey of solar businesses in Illinois found that more than 2,000 rooftop and community solar projects have already been installed. Illinois businesses will complete more than 8,400 rooftop and community solar projects by the end of 2022. Businesses are hiring rapidly and the workforce in the state is expected to increase 47% by the end of this year.
Renewable energy businesses reported that they have already expanded their work on diversity, equity and inclusion by recruiting from solar job training programs, creating internal committees focused on diversity and hiring consultants and recruiters to guide their diversity efforts.
The Illinois Power Agency maintains an online map of solar projects that participate in the state’s adjustable block program here – roughly 25,000 solar projects have been completed since the program launched in 2017. The agency is currently developing its long-term renewable energy plan that will establish the path for renewable energy growth for coming years. The plan will establish an equity eligible contractor certification and an equity accountability system in the next 12-18 months.