Downstate Illinois has received its first community solar project as part of the 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act. Summit Ridge Energy, a Virginia-based energy company, bid on the rights to sell clean energy credits for 18 new southern Illinois community solar projects in downstate Ameren and an additional 23 in northern Illinois. For the entirety of its projects, Summit Ridge has registered upwards of 8,480 customers to partake in the new installations.
Ameren’s downstate project is just the first of 18 southern Illinois community solar projects expected to be constructed. According to Summit Ridge, when all 18 of the projects are completed and operational, their subscribers will save a collective total of $750,000 per year. This is all from a $300 million investment made by Summit Ridge, which helped increase the total grid capacity an additional 100 megawatts.
Not only did the southern Illinois community solar project come with benefits for homeowners, it also added jobs to the region. To complete the Ameren project, Summit added more than 1,200 construction jobs. The new project started as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which was passed in 2017 and provided credits to solar developers. After the act was approved, energy companies began to show interest in developing community solar installations. Some proposals were for as much as 2-megawatts.
To choose the projects to be approved, a lottery was implemented. Of the 39 applications submitted by Summit Ridge, six were chosen. However, the energy company started to acquire additional projects from developers that entered the lottery. Since the initial lottery pull, Summit Ridge has gained an additional 30 pending projects.
While it was able to officially complete the first downstate project, Summit Ridge has 33 more to complete. They are, though, on the back burner while the state agrees upon possible legislation that will add funding for more community solar program credits. According to the principal of Midwest development for Summit Ridge, Mark Raeder, the delay in funding and waiting for state legislation will have a negative impact on the community solar industry.
Summit Ridge is currently managing the Ameren community solar project and will handle additional installations it completes.