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State funds flow to renewables

September 21, 2011

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President, Illinois Renewable Energy Association

Last week, the State of Illinois announced two programs in support of renewable energy. One is the Renewable Energy Business Development Grant, designed to encourage the use of renewable energy and support economic development within Illinois. The second is the Solar and Wind Energy Rebate program.

Both programs are restricted to installations within Illinois and customers within the service area of an investor-owned electric or gas utility or a municipal gas or electric utility cooperative that imposes the Renewable Energy Resources or Coal Technology Development Assistance Charge.

This article highlights only some of the expectations of the programs to alert the readers of their existence. In filling out the forms, be aware of the terms and conditions set out in the application guidelines, as they must be met to be eligible for funding.

The submittal deadline for the Renewable Energy Business Development Grant Program is 4:30 p.m., Oct. 28, 2012. It is a competitive Request-for-Application process. Proposed projects are eligible for grants up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with a minimum request of $100,000 and a maximum grant award of $500,000. Applicants must contribute a minimum of 25 percent of the total project costs.

For-profit businesses, governmental entities, colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations are eligible for funding.

Eligible expenditures include purchase and installation of machinery, equipment and new industrial systems, necessary site improvements, technical or engineering services for process improvements in key functions, and/or the conversion of existing processes.

The application form is available on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website: http://www.illinoisbiz.biz/dceo/Bureaus/Energy_Recycling/Energy/Clean+Energy/01-RERP.htm. The contact person is Wayne Hartel.

The second program is the popular Renewable Energy Resources Solar and Wind Energy Rebate program. It is designed to encourage the utilization of small-scale solar and wind energy systems in Illinois. Eligibility is limited to costs associated with the purchase and installation of a solar or wind energy system purchased and installed on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

The rebate is based on the actual documented project costs of equipment and installations, up to 30 percent of eligible project costs for a single solar or wind energy system for residential or private businesses, and up to 50 percent of the eligible costs for public-sector or non-profit entities.

All solar and wind energy systems, except those constructed by a homeowner, must be installed by a professional installer licensed to operate in Illinois who maintains the appropriate insurance.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a completed rebate application prior to making any financial investment. If the department deems the project eligible for rebate, the applicant will receive a letter indicating a Notice to Proceed.

Once a Notice to Proceed is received, the funds for the project will be held for 120 days after the date of the notice. Upon completion of the installation, the applicant must submit a letter to the department stating that the project was completed within the hold period.

Although the price of solar electric systems continues to fall, programs such as these have helped renewable energy become adopted in the state.

Drs. Robert and Sonia Vogl are founders and officers of the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) and coordinate the annual Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair. E-mail sonia@essex1.com.

From the Sept. 21-27, 2011, issue

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