Metro-East News

Proposed solar farm projects in Edwardsville, Carlyle earn energy credits

Two solar power projects proposed in the metro-east were chosen by lottery to receive renewable energy credits to help fund their development.

The Illinois Power Agency announced Wednesday the winners of its Adjustable Block Program lottery. The program was established by the Future Energy Jobs Act to support the development of solar technology and community solar projects in Illinois.

According to Anthony Star, the director of the IPA, an independent state agency that provides oversight for utilities, 488 applications were submitted. Solar farm projects proposed in Edwardsville and Carlyle were among the 34 project picked through the IPA lottery.

Once given the approval of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the projects can go forward with additional financial support from the renewable energy credits. The energy credits are derived when a development generates more electricity for the public power grid than it consumes. Those credits can also be sold.

The contracts for the projects approved through Wednesday’s lottery require ICC approval.

The vendors for the two metro-east projects could not be reached for comment about their immediate plans or project timetables.

“They can start whenever they want,” Star said. “You don’t have to participate in this program to have a community solar project, but without the funding of the program, you probably can’t get the economics to work.”

According to Star, it will take several weeks and maybe even months for the commerce commission to decide if the projects are logistically possible.

Wednesday’s lottery was conducted using a computer language that picked projects based on a ranking system. The number of projects chosen had to add up to approximately 200 megawatts total, Star said.

Other metro-east projects that were submitted were placed on a waiting list. Star said in case one of the projects accepted in the lottery were to fail for some reason, the IPA will work its way down the list.

Hana Muslic has been a public safety reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat since August 2018, covering everything from crime and courts to accidents, fires and natural disasters. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and her previous work can be found in The Lincoln Journal-Star and The Kansas City Star.