By Michael DeCaluwe
May 14, 2018 – Solar energy initiatives have been in the news a lot lately – from requirements to install solar on new homes in California to community solar projects in the Midwest.
Illinois is poised to become a leader in new solar power. There are excellent new economic incentives to install solar at your facility that can lower your electricity costs for the next 20 years.
ComEd and Ameren agreed to create a fund to incentivize building over 3000 MWs of solar and 1000 MWs of wind power in the state as part of the bailout of Exelon’s nuclear fleet by the State of Illinois in 2016. These incentives take the form of rebates. Combined with federal tax credits, most rooftop solar projects in Illinois now have an estimated payback period of 5 years or under.
The lifespan of most solar units is 20-25 years. This means that after the initial payoff period of 4-5 years, customers would essentially be getting “free” power for years 5-25 of the system. This can amount to millions of dollars to some customers (depending on the unit’s size).
Not all sites are good candidates for rooftop solar units. Here are parameters to help you decide if your site is a good fit.
Illinois Solar Program Guidelines
- A Newer Roof. You’ll ideally need a roof that has 20-25 years left on its life rating. You don’t want to incur the expense of disassembly and re-installation of the solar array if you need to replace your roof in the next 20 years.
- A Large Energy Bill. You need to spend over $130,000 a year on electricity to make solar economical for you.
- A Large Roof with Unobstructed Views. A medium-height building (under 5 stories) and large rooftop footprint are also important. Solar panels will be facing south with a 10-degree tilt, so you’ll need a clear view facing that direction.
- An Owned (NOT Rented) Facility. Since the array will sit on the roof, the client should ideally own the roof space and expect to occupy it for the next 20 years.
- A Federal Tax Liability. Many of the solar incentives come in the form of federal tax credits and accelerated depreciation rules (IRS Code). You’ll need a federal tax liability to offset.
Other Important Things to Know about the Illinois Solar Program
- The Illinois state solar incentives are provided on a sliding-scale. Companies that enroll in the program first will get the most incentives.
- There is only a set number of MWs that ComEd and Ameren are funding as part of this program. Once these MWs are used up, the program ends.
If you are at all interested in how much money a solar unit would save your company in energy expenses, call our office now. We will walk you through the process, provide an on-site review of your facility to determine the feasibility of installing a solar unit, and provide an informative proposal that will walk you through the numbers.
This is a big opportunity for businesses in Illinois to reduce expenses and increase your competitiveness. If you fit the parameters outlined in this article, call to see how solar can benefit you.
About The Author
Michael has served as the VP of Commercial & Industrial Sales at Nania Energy Advisors since 2007. He believes that listening to and understanding clients’ energy needs is vital to becoming a thought leader in the industry and forming a mutually beneficial business relationship. In his spare time, Michael enjoys being a dad, staying active and playing basketball.