Community Solar for Wilmette & Beyond

Please join us at a Town Hall meeting in Wilmette on October 29th at 7pm at the Wilmette Public Library for more information . . . but we encourage you to sign up now!

Community Solar for Wilmette & Beyond (formerly known as Wilmette Community Solar Project) is a group of residents from Wilmette and surrounding communities organizing a solar energy project. Under Illinois’s new Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), any community group can come together to create a shared solar panel installation. Individual subscribers then receive credit on their electric bills for their share of the group project.

Here’s an update regarding the Community Solar for Wilmette & Beyond project!

We are pleased to announce that Illinois’ community solar program has officially launched and subscribers can now sign up for a program of their choice.

The Wilmette Community Solar Program team has worked for two years with solar developer Jon Carson of Trajectory Energy Partners while we waited for the state program to be finalized. When none of Trajectory’s 30 projects were selected in the lottery, we asked Jon to recommend an alternate project for us.

Trajectory Energy Partners has been working with Clearway Energy on the Clearway Community Solar project. (You may have recently received a mailer about this program.)  Jon has recommended this project to us because of the energy discount and terms of agreement. In fact, some of us have already signed up as future subscribers! The community solar installation is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020.

The terms of the program will save you money and support renewable energy. Generally speaking, the community solar subscription will save subscribers 20% off of the energy supply costs for the ComEd default rate. In addition, participating in a community solar project contributes to the development of new solar power generation in Illinois, helping the growth of cleaner electricity production in our state. If you cannot put solar panels on your roof, this is the next best thing.

To learn more about the program and to sign a non-binding letter of intent to become a community solar subscriber, visit https://www.clearwaycommunitysolar.com/lp/wilmette-solar/ or call Clearway at 866/224-1681. (Mark Kraemer of our WCSP team recommends that you talk to Harry at Clearway at 877/751-2813.)

When signing up, please be sure you mention Wilmette or use the Promo Code “Wilmette,” even if you live in another suburb. This way, we can keep track of how many subscribers we are reaching.

Once you sign the letter, you have six months to decide if you wish to finalize your subscription, so there is no reason not to do so!

Please note:

  • You must be a ComEd customer to enroll in the program
  • If you move out of the ComEd area, there is no penalty for withdrawing
  • If you move within the ComEd area, your subscription moves with you

Please join us at a Town Hall meeting in Wilmette on October 29th at 7pm at the Wilmette Public Library for more information . . . but we encourage you to sign up now!

There are several benefits for subscribers:

No roof space required. The panels will be located on 10 – 15 acres of land in the ComEd service area.
No up-front investment required. Subscribers pay a monthly subscription fee to the Community project for the power generated by one or more solar panels. The energy from those panels is credited to their monthly ComEd bills.
Lower cost. The cost of electricity from the solar project will be slightly lower than current Comed rates.
Subscription rates will be locked in for an extended period (up to 15 years). During that period, ComEd rates are projected to continue rising.

Additional Benefits:

Support renewable energy. Solar installations help reduce demand for coal-, gas-, and oil-fired facilities.
Reduce transmission losses. When power is sent a long distance from a power plant to the consumer, a significant fraction of the energy is lost to heat. By putting production where the power is consumed, there is much less transmission loss.
Reduce infrastructure costs. Local power generation reduces the need for building and maintaining the high-tension power lines and substations that carry power from distant nuclear and coal-fired plants.
Reduce peak demand. Solar installations generate power during the periods of highest demand (hot summer afternoons). With more solar panels, fewer gas-fired “peaker” plants need to be built to handle short-term demands.

Why now? Until now, community solar projects have run into many roadblocks. But Illinois’ new Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) calls for and supportes the creation of 400 megawatts of community solar projects by 2030, enough to power 100,000 homes.

Why here? Because of all our beautiful trees, few Wilmette residents have enough unobstructed roof space for solar panels. And installing solar panels requires a substantial investment on the part of the homeowner that takes several years to make good on. Community solar projects allow interested customers, to “subscribe” to the project with no initial investment, and still obtain many of the benefits of solar energy. By committing to purchase power from the project for a number of years, they help the project obtain funding for the installation.

Where will the panels be located? Finding appropriate space is one of the main tasks for the project to accomplish. Open land in Wilmette – and in Cook County – is hard to come by. We will be working with interested community and business leaders to identify available space. The panels don’t have to be located in Wilmette. The project can draw from panels located elsewhere in Illinois. If you know of suitable space (10 15 acres) in the ComEd service area,  please let us know.

How does community solar work? Under Illinois’s community solar program, “subscribers” can enter into an agreement to help fund a solar energy installation in their community—on the rooftop of a local school or community center, for example. Any entity could organize a community solar project, including individuals, community groups, businesses, even utilities or alternative suppliers. Each subscriber then receives a credit on the supply section of his or her monthly electric bill for the electricity that was generated by the installation, in proportion to the size of the subscription they purchased.

For example, say you used 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a month, and your share of the community solar project produced 200 kWh of electricity. That means you would receive a credit on your bill amounting to your supply rate multiplied by 200 kWh of electricity. Ultimately, you would only be responsible for paying the per-kWh electricity rate for the other 800 kWh.

Additional resources:

Citizen’s Utility Board fact sheet on Community Solar

Cook County Community Solar Case Study Sites

Illinois Solar Energy Association

Future Energy Jobs Act Full Text

ComEd-sponsored site regarding FEJA

Go Green Wilmette