Renewable energy incentives run out in central and southern Illinois

The Illinois Power Agency today announced the close of state renewable energy incentives for residents in central and southern Illinois. With funding expected to disappear in northern Illinois in coming days, Illinois’ renewable energy program will abruptly end before the end of this year. The end of incentives will immediately impact the ability of homeowners to go solar and will force thousands of layoffs at solar businesses across the state in the coming months.

The solar industry and advocates have warned for years that incentives would run out without legislative action, and urged legislators to fix the state’s renewable energy policy in order to save jobs and keep solar savings available to consumers. A coalition of renewable energy businesses introduced the Path to 100 Act in early 2019 to address the problem, but the bill has yet to be called for a vote.

“Thousands of people across Illinois have launched careers, trained workers and invested in renewable energy based on a program that has now ceased to function,” said Nakhia Morrissette, central region director for SEIA. “Any elected official that cares about jobs, clean energy and economic growth needs to take urgent action to keep renewable energy alive in Illinois.”

The final block of state incentives for residential and small business rooftop solar closed on December 4 for projects in Ameren territory. Funding for projects in ComEd territory is also anticipated to be exhausted within a few weeks. Incentives for utility-scale wind and solar, community solar and commercial-scale solar had already been exhausted.

When funded, Illinois’ renewable energy program has proven to be highly successful. The state more than doubled its renewable energy installations in under three years and homeowners, schools, and businesses in every part of the state have locked in long-term energy savings. Illinois was among the top states for solar job growth in 2018 and 2019 but lost an estimated 3,500 jobs in 2020 as incentives dried up for large-scale and commercial renewable energy projects.

To date, Illinois has only reached 8% renewable energy generation despite statutory requirements to reach 25% by 2025. More than 1,000 solar projects that applied for state incentives have been “waitlisted” due to lack of funding for the program. These projects would be ready to move forward if legislation passes to restore funding for the renewable energy incentives.

News item from Path to 100