The Comprehensive Guide to Solar Energy in Illinois: Harnessing the Power of the Prairie Sun
Illinois, known for its fertile prairies and diverse landscapes, is embracing solar energy as a sustainable solution to power its homes and businesses. With a growing interest in renewable energy and a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, solar power has become an attractive option for residents and businesses across the state. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about solar energy in Illinois, including the cost of solar installations, available tax breaks and incentives, the number of solar companies, and the state’s journey towards a cleaner and greener energy future.
Solar Potential in Illinois
Illinois receives a moderate amount of sunshine throughout the year, making it a viable location for solar energy generation. While the state may not have the sun exposure of southern regions, its solar potential is still significant. The Illinois landscape offers plenty of available space for solar installations, including rooftops, open fields, and brownfield sites that can be repurposed for solar farms. The state’s commitment to renewable energy policies further enhances its solar potential and provides ample opportunities for harnessing the power of the sun.
The Cost of Solar Installations in Illinois
The cost of solar installations in Illinois can vary depending on various factors, including the size of the system, the type of solar panels used, and installation complexities. As of my last update in September 2021, the average cost of a residential solar PV system in Illinois ranged from $2.50 to $3.50 per watt before any financial incentives. For a typical 6 kW solar system, this would amount to around $15,000 to $21,000 before incentives.
It’s important to note that solar costs have been decreasing steadily over the years due to technological advancements and increased demand for solar installations. Additionally, federal and state incentives can significantly reduce the upfront costs, making solar energy a more financially viable option for Illinois residents.
Solar Tax Breaks and Incentives
Illinois offers a range of tax breaks and incentives to promote solar energy adoption and encourage residents and businesses to invest in clean energy. Some of the key incentives include:
Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC):
The Federal ITC provides a tax credit of a percentage of the total solar system cost for residential and commercial installations. As of my last update, the ITC offered a 26% tax credit, but this percentage may have changed since then. It’s essential to check the latest updates to determine the current percentage.
Illinois Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs):
The SREC program allows solar system owners to earn credits for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity their solar systems generate. These credits can be sold to utilities or other entities to meet their renewable energy targets, providing an additional stream of revenue for solar system owners.
Solar Property Tax Exemption:
Solar installations in Illinois are exempt from property tax assessments, ensuring that homeowners and businesses do not face an increase in property taxes due to their solar systems.
Illinois has robust net metering policies that allow solar system owners to receive credits for any excess electricity they generate and feed back into the grid. These credits can offset the electricity consumed from the grid during periods of low solar generation, effectively reducing electricity bills.
Adjustable Block Program (ABP):
The Illinois ABP is a state incentive program that offers upfront cash incentives for solar installations, making it more affordable for homeowners and businesses to go solar.
The Rise of Solar Companies in Illinois
The growing interest in solar energy in Illinois has led to the proliferation of solar companies across the state. These companies offer a range of solar services, including initial consultations, solar system design, installation, and maintenance. The increasing number of solar companies in Illinois provides consumers with a competitive market and a wide array of options to choose from.
With numerous solar companies in the state, it’s crucial to research and select a reputable and experienced installer to ensure the proper design and installation of your solar system. Reading reviews, checking customer testimonials, and verifying licenses and certifications are essential steps in finding the right solar company for your needs.
Illinois’ Journey towards Renewable Energy
Illinois has made significant strides in embracing renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), enacted in 2016, is a landmark legislation that has propelled Illinois’ commitment to renewable energy. The FEJA aims to expand renewable energy generation, create green jobs, and promote energy efficiency throughout the state.
The Illinois Power Agency (IPA) is actively involved in implementing renewable energy programs, including the Adjustable Block Program (ABP) and the Illinois Solar for All program. These initiatives aim to promote solar energy adoption, particularly in low-income and underserved communities, fostering a more equitable transition to clean energy.
Illinois’ abundant potential for solar energy, coupled with a range of tax breaks and incentives, has positioned the state as a rising star in the solar industry. As the cost of solar installations continues to decline and the number of solar companies grows, more Illinois residents and businesses are turning to solar power as a clean and sustainable energy solution.
With a strong commitment to renewable energy policies and a focus on reducing carbon emissions, Illinois is setting an example for other states to follow. By harnessing the power of the prairie sun, residents and businesses in the Land of Lincoln can not only lower their environmental impact but also embrace a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.