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Illinois is set to become the Midwest’s solar power leader

Approved by the Illinois legislature in December 2016, FEJA is probably best known for instituting the first legislatively-mandated nuclear subsidies in the nation, but the act has also caused a renewed interest in renewable energy across the state.

Dave Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, told Utility Dive in April, “We are getting more new build than anticipated,” and some of the prices are coming in below expectations, he said. “We are just getting started with big deployments of wind and solar power.”

Illinois’ ranking in solar power
At the end of the 2nd quarter of 2018, Illinois ranked 34th, up from 43rd in 2017 in solar capacity. The state has only 97.84 MW of installed solar power.

Rankings and installed solar capacity are about to change for the better, so much so that Illinois could end up being the Midwest’s leader in solar energy in a matter of a few years.

The state has been building a solar energy infrastructure almost from scratch, and it is taking place at an accelerated pace. “The stakes are high,” said David Kolata, according to Inside Climate News. “I think we have a good plan and we have reasons to be optimistic in general, but there’s no question we’ll face some roadblocks and things we didn’t think of.”

Shedd's 265-kilowatt solar panel project is a highlight in itself—it is the largest installation...

Shedd’s 265-kilowatt solar panel project is a highlight in itself—it is the largest installation at any cultural institution in Illinois—but it’s only the first step of Shedd’s plan to cut energy usage in half by 2020.
Shedd Aquarium

In job-training programs have sprung up across the state, organized by nonprofit groups as part of the law. Developers, some new and some already established in the state, are submitting new proposals spurred by the supportive policies from the state government.

Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the renewed interest is no surprise.
“Solar companies have responded to that and there are now probably about 1,000 megawatts of solar projects that have applied for interconnection, which is one of the first steps in building a project,” Gallagher said. “Illinois said the market is open and solar developers… want to supply solar power to [those] customers.”

According to SEIA, along with Woods Mackenzie Power and Renewables, over the next five years, Illinois is projected to add 1,857 megawatts of solar capacity, an 1,898 percent increase over what it has today. This is a humongous percentage, and is completely realistic, especially when taking into account that solar prices have dropped 47 percent over the last five years.

The FEJA is also creating jobs, hundreds of them, and the number of manufacturers, developers, and installers is forecast to increase. This is because the FEJA places a lot of emphasis on small projects.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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