Are you interested in solar power but prevented from installing solar panels because you can’t afford it, don’t have enough space or sunlight on your property, or live in an apartment?
Illinois’ new community solar program allows electricity customers to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without installing panels on their own homes.
Through community solar, you can purchase a portion of the electricity produced by a solar installation—called a community solar garden—and in return receive credits on your electric bill.
Community Solar FAQs
What are the benefits of Community Solar?
Signing up for community solar can lower your overall electric costs, while also supporting renewable energy development in Illinois. Community solar can also improve the power grid’s reliability, and adding solar power to the grid lessens the need for expensive power plants, lowering market prices for all.
Who can be a subscriber?
All residential and business customers can subscribe to a community solar garden—as long as it’s located in their electric utility’s service territory. The minimum subscription per customer is 200 watts, or about one solar panel.
Do subscribers directly receive power from the solar garden?
No. Unlike a home with its own solar panels, there’s no way to send the power generated by a solar garden exclusively to a subscriber’s home. Like all electricity, power produced by a solar garden is sent to the utility’s grid and distributed indiscriminately the moment it’s created.
How does it work?
Under Illinois’ community solar program, subscribers enter into an agreement that helps fund a solar installation somewhere in their utility’s service territory in exchange for a credit on their bills.
The owner of the community solar garden pays the upfront costs to build, maintain and connect the garden to the utility’s power grid. Subscribers pay the owner for their portion of the electricity produced. The owner then reports the output of each solar subscription to the utility, and the utility company adds credits to the subscriber’s electric bill equal to that output
Let’s say your home uses 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in a month, and your portion of the solar garden you subscribe to produces 950 kWh in that same month. You would receive a credit on your bill equal to your supply rate multiplied by 950 kWh, meaning that month you would only need to pay for the remaining 50 kWh. Then you receive a separate bill from your community solar provider for that 950 kWh generated by your subscription. Currently, all community solar companies in Illinois offer savings by charging you lower than what you would have paid ComEd or Ameren.
Learn how to use Hourly Pricing and Peak Time Savings to save below.
Save with Hourly Pricing
Save money on your electricity bill by signing up to pay for electricity at hourly prices.
With this program, you will receive alerts of high prices, so you can choose to use less energy during times when prices are high in order to save money on your electricity bill!
Learn More & Sign Up
Save with Peak Time Savings
This program alerts you and pays you for using less electricity during high demand times.
High demand times typically occur from 11 AM to 7 PM. You can earn $5- $12 credits (up to 5 times) on your utility bill for each Peak Time Day that you reduce your electricity use.
Learn More & Sign Up
"The Smart Energy program empowers each individual and household to impact energy consumption by reducing bills while stewarding the environment."
-Elder Sharon Louis, Green Team Leader, Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church
Houses of Worship Implementing this Program