Now is the time for municipalities to start joining the effort to reduce carbon emissions and increase their green efforts. In Illinois, a group of six suburban communities took the initiative to join a local community solar program. With the environmental benefits in mind, the communities also sought a means to provide their residents with cost-saving perks while participating in renewable energies.
According to officials, the collaboration between Skokie, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, and Lake Bluff is the largest effort in Illinois to shift to solar. The six communities have joined with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to join a local community solar program and offer incentives to homeowners, small businesses, and schools.
Once the agreement is solidified, homeowners can join the community solar program and subscribe to solar energy. They can bypass the need for costly solar panels and draw energy from the megawatts generated by the local facility. Participants are also eligible to receive a 20% discount on their monthly utility bill.
Lake Forest Environmental Sustainability Committee chair, Melanie Rummel, the community realized that private rooftop solar panels are not available to everyone. Their high cost of development and maintenance keeps them out of reach for many homeowners. That’s why the communities came together to join the program and draw power from the solar farm.
To ensure the program is functional, officials explained that multiple facilities would be needed. As it stands, Illinois does not have enough community solar gardens to accommodate the number of expected subscribers. According to Madeline Farrel of Northbrook, the new facilities are expected to be built in Northern Illinois and will be operated by Commonwealth Edison.
The north suburban Illinois communities are all part of the North Shore Electricity Aggregation Consortium, which was created in 2011. The group brainstorms ideas on how to best use renewable, clean energy and provide residents with the benefits of going green.
With the new local community solar program, subscriptions will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. They will require no credit charks and all enrollment and termination fees have been waived.