First community solar project in region offers access to clean energy
Rainy Solar Inc. is the first company in northern Illinois to develop and operate a community solar project and it was rewarded for it today with a rebate from ComEd for $299,840. The project enables residential and business customers to subscribe to a portion of the clean power energy generated and earn bill credits from ComEd.
ComEd began accepting applications late last year from commercial and industrial net metering customers for distributed generation rebates of $250 per kilowatt of installed solar capacity. The rebate is designed to reduce up-front installation costs and spur renewable energy development. Through September, ComEd has received 138 rebate applications and paid rebates totaling more than $5 million.
Elgin-based Rainy Solar has installed 3,700 solar panels on the roof of an existing 12,000-square-foot industrial building that it purchased in 2017 on the 1100 block of Davis Road. The solar panels will generate and deliver to the grid approximately 1.2 megawatts (MW) of electricity – enough to power 170 single-family homes. Current subscribers to the project include residential and business customers located (throughout the Elgin area, confirm).
“We applaud Rainy Solar for its vision and launch of the area’s first community solar development,” said Scott Vogt, vice president of energy acquisition at ComEd. “Community solar will be key to a cleaner energy future as it expands access to solar for renters and people with heavily shaded properties or who are unable for various reasons to go solar.”
Rainy Solar founder and entrepreneur Ken Buckman said he was motivated to get into community solar by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) that took effect in Illinois in 2017. It provides $180 million per year, growing to $220 million per year, in funding for renewables, including new wind power, large-scale solar and rooftop and community solar.
“Community solar is a classic win-win opportunity and it will be a key driver of the new energy economy in Illinois,” said Buchman. “It creates new opportunities for environmentally conscious businesses and customers who are looking to save on energy bills while improving the health of their communities.”
Rainy Solar’s project was one of 78 that were awarded 15-year Renewable Energy Credit contracts through a lottery conducted in April by the Illinois Power Agency. The contracts entitle the developers of these projects to sell renewable energy credits to utilities. Following the lottery, ComEd began working with the developers to interconnect their projects to the electric distribution system so that the energy generated can be delivered to the grid. Currently, there are about 40 community solar projects that are fully funded and scheduled for construction in northern Illinois in 2019 and 2020.
Community solar customers in Illinois can subscribe up to 110% of their last 12 months of electricity usage – receiving credits on their bill and taking advantage of solar energy without having to install panels of their own. ComEd customers and solar developers can visit www.ComEd.com/solar to learn more about solar options and the interconnection process.