On June 28, Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill, signed legislation tasking an agency with spending millions of dollars to purchase solar-produced electricity in Illinois. The law, which is effective immediately, also emphasizes the development of distributed solar generation, such as the installation of solar panels on residential rooftops.
‘These last days of June are some of the longest of the year, the perfect time to talk about getting more of our electricity from solar,’ says Gov. Quinn. ‘Thousands of residents will soon get cheaper, cleaner energy, and we will create good-paying jobs for working families in the process. It's this sort of innovation that has made Illinois a national leader in clean energy production.’
H.B.2427, sponsored by State Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, and state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, requires the Illinois Power Agency to use up to $30 million to purchase solar power to meet a portion of the state's electric power needs. The agency was established in 2007 to develop procurement plans at the lowest total cost for residential and small commercial customers of utilities Ameren and ComEd.
The money will come from the Illinois Power Agency's Renewable Energy Resources Fund, which is made up of clean energy fees paid by state power suppliers. According to Quinn, the law establishes a competitive procurement process to purchase energy from existing solar devices and from new solar installations, which could mean thousands of new solar panel installations on homes in Illinois. Existing and new utility-scale solar projects will benefit from the legislation as well, adds Quinn.
Sen. Harmon says," Increasing our investment in clean energy creates jobs, protects the environment and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. Over the past few years, we've seen wind energy take off in Illinois. I hope that this investment starts a similar revolution in solar energy."
According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois has about 52 MW of installed solar capacity. Meanwhile, figures from the American Wind Energy Association say the state is home to over 3.5 GW of installed wind power.
Howard Learner, president of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, has praised the new law, saying it will"jumpstart the solar industry in Illinois."