The Ecology Action Center announced Monday that four Bloomington-Normal nonprofit agencies are among the first in McLean County selected for solar projects through the Illinois Solar for All program. The solar projects were selected on Wednesday, September 9, and are subject to the approval of the Illinois Commerce Commission in the coming weeks. If approved, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, the Wayman AME Church, the Normal Township Activity and Recreation Center, and the Christ Church PCA will all receive solar installations that will significantly reduce their overall energy costs for years to come. Local solar installer StraightUp Solar is working with all four organizations on their solar installations. The Ecology Action Center is a grassroots educator for Illinois Solar for All and works to promote and educate the local community on the program.
Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) is a key outcome of the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act and is designed to increase access to solar energy for low-income and environmental justice communities. ILSFA works by increasing incentives (solar renewable energy credits or SRECs) for income-qualifying projects. The solar developers and contractors (called Approved Vendors) who complete projects in ILSFA receive these increased incentives and are then able to offer installations with no upfront costs for income-qualifying residents and low or no upfront costs for qualifying nonprofits and public facilities. Approved Vendors are not allowed to charge participants more than 50% of the value of the energy produced by the solar systems. This enables ILSFA participants to reap the energy-saving benefits of solar without having to overcome the obstacle of financing a solar installation all at once.
The Ecology Action Center (EAC) just started its second year serving as a grassroots educator for ILSFA. EAC worked directly with several of the nonprofits selected to receive solar through the program to both educate those organizations about the benefits of ILSFA and to reach residents those organizations serve. ILSFA is a multi-year program, and there are still opportunities for McLean County residents to participate. Larissa Armstrong, EAC Assistant Director said, “We are really excited to see local organizations benefit from the ILSFA program, and are hopeful even more residents and organizations in our community will get to do the same.”
On-site solar installations are available for single-family homes that meet the income eligibility requirement, and for multi-family properties where half the residents meet these income requirements. Community solar is available for any household in Ameren territory that meets the income eligibility requirement. Check the EAC’s energy program site at bnenergybright.org/illinois-solar-for-all for details on income eligibility.
The Ecology Action Center’s role is to educate residents and organizations on how they can benefit from this program, either providing information directly to individuals or offering brief online overview presentations to organizations and community groups. The EAC helps eligible residents and organizations access the ILSFA program and the benefits of solar. Contact Larissa Armstrong, at [email protected] or 309-454-3169 x.15 to learn more or schedule a group presentation.