Flowers grow beneath Pivot Energy’s Community Solar Garden in Kankakee, Illinois. Pivot Energy
On May 3, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) announced its final selection for the latest round of community solar projects in Illinois. The projects — which, when built, will add enough solar capacity to fully power more than 26,000 Illinois households — are made possible through funds from 2021’s landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA).
Each of the 78 projects will pay workers the prevailing wage and hire workers from systemically disadvantaged communities for at least 10% of the project’s workforce. Forty-nine of the projects are located in the greater Chicago area, many of them on rooftops within Chicago city limits.
“One of the primary goals of CEJA was to build an equitable clean energy workforce,” says John Delurey, Vote Solar’s deputy program director for the Midwest. “We’re not just creating jobs with these projects. We’re carving pathways to rewarding, family-supporting careers, while ensuring that those historically left out of the solar economy have access to those opportunities.”
Of the 33 projects in more rural areas of the state, nearly all have committed to planting pollinator-friendly habitats and allowing grazing and other farming activities between solar panels.
In addition to more than 400 megawatts of community solar, nearly 17,000 small rooftop solar projects and more than 300 large rooftop projects have been submitted to the IPA’s incentive program since CEJA’s passage in September 2021.
“It’s incredibly exciting to watch CEJA’s impact continue to multiply,” continued Delurey. “Signing a bill into law is never the finish line, and CEJA has been a case study in how intentional, equity-first, community-led policy can truly be a gift that keeps on giving.”
News item from Vote Solar