Three Big Wins for Solar Energy in Illinois
A trio of solar energy legislation in Illinois reflects the growing progress of solar development in Illinois and ELPC’s leadership work with diverse solar energy businesses, farm groups, conservation groups and municipalities to build out the policy framework. Kudos to ELPC’s experienced Illinois legislative team led by Al Grosboll, David McEllis and Jonathan Feipel.
ELPC worked closely with the solar industry to successfully advance three important bills to support and encourage solar development. All three bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and now await the Governor’s signature. Each bill, in its own unique way, is important to successful solar energy development in Illinois.
- SB 3214 (Solar Pollinators) – ELPC drafted this legislation after reviewing similar efforts in Minnesota and Maryland. SB 3214 will lead to increased pollinator-friendly habitat on solar energy project sites in Illinois. ELPC worked closely with the solar industry and conservation advocates to get buy-in; we also negotiated with the Illinois Farm Bureau to avoid confusion or opposition. This legislation provides that if a solar company intends to present its project as “pollinator friendly,” then the solar company must meet a pollinator standard. The University of Illinois Department of Entomology will prepare a scorecard to define a pollinator-friendly project.
- SB 486 (Solar Project Uniform Assessments) – Illinois does not have a statewide uniform standard for assessing the value of solar energy projects. Currently, 102 county assessors determine solar project values, and each can reach a different result, creating uncertainty within the solar industry. Solar developers, like other businesses, desire stability and certainty. ELPC supported the solar industry’s efforts to negotiate a uniform standard to be used by the state’s county assessors. This is similar to the legislative work ten years ago to establish a uniform statewide standard for assessing wind power projects.
- SB 2591 (Solar Agricultural Impact Mitigation Act) – The solar industry negotiated with the Illinois Farm Bureau to develop mitigation legislation to protect agricultural interests. A comparable “AIM Act” is in place for wind power projects, and the Farm Bureau sought similar requirements for solar energy projects. The initial draft legislation was problematic, but it was amended and is acceptable to the solar industry and to ELPC. This bill is a good compromise that sets reasonable standards for solar energy projects.