Companies that had community solar projects picked in last month’s lottery by the Illinois Power Agency say their projects are just the tip of the iceberg.
The selected projects became eligible to obtain renewable energy credits. The credits help make the projects viable. Solar development companies behind the projects are now looking ahead to building the arrays or "solar gardens" at sites across Illinois.
Alex Ferkes is Director of Project Development for Borrego Solar Systems. Several of its proposals for “solar gardens” made the list.
Ferkes said he’s cautiously optimistic about the industry’s future in Illinois. But, he said, out of around 900 project applications, only a little more than 100 were picked.
“So what we need to be able to do,” he said, “is allow the remaining 800 projects to move forward into the future.”
The Illinois Power Agency says there’s not enough money for that in the current program.
Gordy Simanton is Vice-President of Business Development for SolarStone. He’s bullish about the state’s desire to increase its use of renewable energy.
“And we're looking at the projects that didn't get awarded,” he said, “as having some value to us going forward, that we would be able to, at some point, build those as well.”
Ferkes said the Path to 100 Act (HB 2966/SB 1781) could provide more funding. Solar companies are backing the measure as it works its way through the Illinois Legislature. The Act would greatly increase the state’s use of renewable energy. That could make more of the solar gardens that didn’t make the cut this time a reality. Simanton said that would good for the companies, consumers and the environment.