Editor’s note: This is the May installment of a monthly column written by the city of DeKalb’s Citizens Environmental Commission that focuses on increased awareness of issues such as promoting projects and ordinance changes involved in recycling, reducing energy consumption, and planting native habitat.
Community solar is a relatively new concept in the world of renewable energy, but it’s quickly gaining traction in DeKalb and northern Illinois. This innovative approach to solar power enables local communities to pool their resources and invest in a shared solar energy system.
One of the primary benefits of community solar is increased accessibility to renewable energy. For many, installing solar panels on their property is not an option because of cost, space and utility restrictions. Community solar allows these individuals to still have access to clean energy. Renewable energy sources like solar power reduce carbon emissions, helping to combat climate change and preserve the environment for future generations.
Several community solar projects are operational in DeKalb and northern Illinois. ComEd and Summit Energy recently announced the completion of three solar projects in Streator, adding enough solar panels to power up to 2,000 homes. Local utility companies, such as ComEd and Ameren Illinois, also are playing a critical role in the growth of community solar in the region.
Community solar offers numerous benefits for residents and the environment. Participants can enjoy lower energy bills and more stable energy costs while supporting clean energy generation. The environmental benefits are significant, as community solar projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
Finally, community solar projects can also help to stabilize the energy grid by decentralizing energy production. Rather than relying on a few large power plants to generate electricity, community solar projects distribute energy production across multiple smaller installations. This helps to reduce strain on the grid and improve overall reliability.
Community solar is a win-win for residents and the environment. By supporting renewable energy generation, promoting energy equity, and fostering community engagement, community solar projects are helping to create a more sustainable and resilient future for all.
A significant barrier is the lack of awareness and understanding among potential customers about the benefits of community solar. Many people may not realize that they can participate in these projects and save money on their electricity bills while also supporting renewable energy development in their community.
There are several providers available to work with in getting started with community solar. I was able to reach two providers who responded to my request for a statement for this column – MC Squared Energy Services and Solstice.
“Solstice community solar is available to ComEd customers in northern Illinois,” Solstice wrote in a statement. “All residents can earn up to 20% savings on their monthly electric supply costs by subscribing to one of Solstice’s local community solar projects. Income-eligible customers can earn substantial additional savings (up to 50% on their electric supply costs) by subscribing to one of Solstice’s new projects made available through the Illinois Solar For All Community Solar program. In all cases, subscribers will offset their home’s carbon footprint with a share of clean energy built right in Illinois.”
Overall, community solar has the potential to play a critical role in meeting DeKalb and northern Illinois’ energy needs while also supporting local economic development and promoting sustainability. Through ongoing education and recognition of the benefits, stakeholders can help to make community solar a reality in the region.
The growth of community solar in DeKalb and northern Illinois holds great promise for transforming the region’s energy landscape.
As more people embrace this innovative approach to renewable energy, the benefits for residents, the environment, and local communities will continue to multiply. With the ongoing support of organizations like the Citizens’ Environmental Commission, the future of community solar in the region looks bright.
Please visit the Citizens’ Environmental Commission at bit.ly/DklbCEC and the city of DeKalb Facebook page.
- Shaun Langley is a member of the city of DeKalb’s Citizens’ Environmental Commission.