The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have proposed Illinois’ first-ever Community Solar plan, which would allow entire neighborhoods to enjoy the financial benefits of renewable energy.
Currently, Illinois utility customers with rooftop solar panels can receive compensation credits on their electric bills by sending excess renewable energy back to the power grid—a benefit called “net metering.” However, only about 300 northern Illinois customers participate because many people, particularly renters, lack the funding and space to install rooftop solar, according to the proposal CUB and EDF jointly filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).
Community solar helps overcome those barriers by allowing customers to share in the compensation credits generated by solar energy installations in their neighborhood.
CUB and EDF are proposing a three-year pilot program for ComEd customers in which a “host customer”—a home, business or a school, for example—would recruit neighbors to invest money in a solar energy project of up to 2,000 kW. The neighbors who invest would then share in electric bill credits generated by that project, based on their level of financial contribution.
EDF and CUB hope the pilot project could be available to ComEd customers by 2016 and expanded to all ComEd and Ameren consumers by 2020.