State Law Trips Up Solar Projects

Nov 20, 2013


Illinois is falling behind its goals when it comes to solar energy on rooftops. Observers say wording in a state law is not helping.

A recent Chicago Tribune report focused on 2011 law that was aimed at getting businesses and homeowners to place more solar panels on their rooftops. Despite the law's intentions, the state is less than halfway toward next year's goal for installation of these units.

The industry cites a fund that was created to offer incentives for these projects. Even though electricity customers have poured more than $50-million into this fund, it hasn't been used much. That's because the law says the money can't begin to flow unless Illinois' two biggest utilities purchase more power. They're not right now, because customers have been turning to alternative suppliers.

Bob Vogl is with the Illinois Renewable Energy Association. He says they're hopeful something gets worked out to spur more development. Vogl says the state has made great strides in producing wind energy. He says they need to do the same with solar energy.

“The reason we like solar technology so much is because it’s ideal for the urban setting,” Vogl said.

Vogle adds that getting more solar panels on rooftops would balance the output created by wind energy.

A proposal in Springfield would address concerns regarding the law. But the plan faces opposition from alternative electricity providers, who say it would drive up rates for customers.

*The IREA is underwriter of WNIJ.