Following Climate-Equitable Jobs Act, Illinois Sees High Growth in Solar Projects

Five months after the passage of Illinois’ landmark clean energy law, solar businesses have installed enough renewable energy to power 30,000 homes and are building a more diverse workforce with the help of job training programs. Data provided by members of the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois Solar Energy Association, and the Coalition for Community Solar Access and the Illinois Power Agency found 2022 is on track to be one of the biggest years for solar energy in Illinois’ history. The renewable energy industry plans more than 8,400 solar installations and to increase its workforce by almost 50% by 2022.

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), which was enacted September 15, 2021, is a major factor in the progress. CEJA sets the long-term goal of 100% clean energy in Illinois by 2050 but also provides immediate steps that help accelerate the renewable energy transition that’s already underway in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Power Agency data, 8,052 solar projects that were on the waitlist have been approved and are expected by the Illinois Commerce Commission. 250 MW of new community-scale solar projects have also been approved. When completed, these projects will enable an estimated 35,000 households to lower their electric bills and not install solar panels.

A survey of Illinois’ solar businesses found that over 2,000 community and rooftop solar projects had been completed. Illinois businesses will complete over 8,400 rooftop and community-solar projects by 2022. Businesses are expanding rapidly and the state’s workforce will grow by 47% by the year’s end.

Renewable energy companies reported that they have expanded their work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. They have created internal committees to focus on diversity, and hired consultants and recruiters to help them.

The Illinois Power Agency maintains an online map of solar projects that participate in the state’s adjustable block program here – roughly 25,000 solar projects have been completed since the program launched in 2017. The agency is currently developing its long term renewable energy plan. This plan will determine the path for future renewable energy growth. In the next 12-18 month, the plan will establish an equity-eligible contractor certification and an equity accountability program.

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