Gov. Blagojevich announces $1 million available for solar energy rebate program

The governor continues his commitment to expand the availability of renewable energy

CHICAGO—Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich recently announced that $1 million in new funding is now available for rebates on the cost of solar energy systems installed in Illinois.

Through the Solar Energy Rebate Program, offered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), homeowners, small businesses and other electric and gas utility customers in Illinois are eligible for awards of up to 30 percent of the cost of solar energy system installations, with a maximum grant of $10,000 per customer.

“As energy bills are continuing to climb, now is a great chance for families and businesses across Illinois to look to the sun to save money. Relying more on homegrown energy sources like solar power will not only make our air cleaner to breathe, but it will also put more people to work. Solar power is a viable and better option than importing energy from other countries,” Blagojevich said.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes 30 percent federal tax credits that are also available for residential and commercial solar energy projects. The federal tax credits are capped at $2,000 for residential systems, but are not capped for business taxpayers. Applicants for the DCEO Solar Energy Rebate Program are encouraged to seek both the federal tax credit, as well as the state rebate, if eligible.

Modern solar panels utilize several different technologies and can produce either electric power or heat. Solar panels that produce electric power are known as photovoltaic, or PV, systems. Increasingly popular also are “solar thermal” panels that produce heat for home heating, hot water, or for business applications, such as commercial laundries.

One solar thermal business in Illinois that has grown significantly as a result of the Solar Energy Rebate Program is Solar Service in Niles. Solar Service has grown from a one-man operation to a small business with 15 employees over the last several years, largely as a result of this program, in combination with its customers’ desires to save money on their energy bills and to reduce pollution.

“Many of our customers are both alarmed by rising home heating prices and seeking to be environmentally responsible and to reduce the pollution from their energy use,” said Brandon Leavitt, owner of Solar Service. “Through Gov. Blagojevich’s support of the solar energy rebates, we have been able to help many homeowners reduce their energy bills.”

“Gov. Blagojevich and I are excited to be supporting the development of the solar energy industry in Illinois and to increase the visibility of solar energy as an important energy option,” school DCEO Director Jack Lavin. “By making investments to support renewable energy technologies, we are helping to keep our energy dollars in Illinois and creating more jobs in Illinois’ renewable energy industry.”

Solar energy rebates are available for qualifying Illinois’ commercial, industrial, residential, nonprofit, schools and association applicants, as long as those applicants are customers of a utility that contributes to the Illinois Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund (any customers of ComEd, Ameren, Mid-American, CWLP, Nicor and Peoples, as well as some other utility customers, are all eligible). The application period for this round of rebates will close April 30, 2007, or when funds are exhausted. For complete guidelines and application materials, go to

Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the governor has divided the state into 10 regions—each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.

From the July 5-11, 2006, issue

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