December 3, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Announces City of Chicago Has Won $750,000 Federal Grant to Help Residents and Businesses Install Solar Panels

SunShot Grant from U.S. Department of Energy received in partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and West Monroe Partners, as city seeks leadership in rooftop solar development

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel announced today that a solar-development project team led by the City of Chicago has received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge. The City, together with its solar-development partners the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and West Monroe Partners will use the grant funds to support an initiative to transform Chicago into a national leader in residential and commercial rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) development.

“Chicago is continuing to invest in the industries of tomorrow in order to create the jobs we need today,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Leading in alternative energies supports the kind of sustainable economic development and cost savings for our homeowners and businesses that we need.”

With the SunShot grant, the City of Chicago and its partners will implement several innovative and aggressive projects over the next 12 months to advance the City’s solar commitment and dramatically reduce the barriers and costs associated with installing solar, including:

  • Creating an expedited solar permit process;
  • Developing solar installer certification and a code official training program;
  • Implementing a best-practice solar zoning policy;
  • Developing solar-ready building standards;
  • Developing  an electric utility network capacity map designed to facilitate commercial-size installations;
  • Simplifying the interconnection process between solar installations and the  grid, and;
  • Facilitating the development and delivery of  favorable financing options that incent investment by homeowners and businesses

“Commercially viable rooftop solar is a critical part of economic and sustainable energy development in Chicago,” said Karen R. Weigert, the City of Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer.  “Creating replicable, long-term, sustainable solar jobs, building a vibrant solar manufacturing and installation sector, creating the market environment that attracts technology and capital and meeting the City’s ambitious carbon mitigation and economic development objectives relies heavily on the investment we plan to make in rooftop solar PV.”

Weigert also noted that “this grant award will help us to streamline permitting, zoning and interconnection processes, reduce regulatory barriers, introduce proactive policy drivers and create programs to attract capital and financing tools. With this grant, Chicago will become the national leader in rooftop solar PV deployment and a Midwestern hub for solar business development, policy and procedural best practices and investment, leveraging this local leadership regionally, across Illinois and nationally.”

The City of Chicago’s commitment to becoming a national leader in the deployment and financing of rooftop solar PV is integral to this goal of transforming itself into the greenest and most sustainable city in America. The City has designed and continues to implement numerous programs to address climate change mitigation and adaption, including groundbreaking work in the 2008 Chicago Climate Action Plan.

The DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national initiative to make solar energy cost competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by about 75 percent will drive widespread, large-scale adoption of this renewable energy technology and restore U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race. The DOE recently announced more than $145 million in grants for projects that will help shape the next generation of solar energy technologies and ensure the United States remains a leader in this global market.

"West Monroe Partners is pleased to be part of this innovative, transformational work that not only will produce substantial economic benefits in the city and region but also have a potentially significant environmental impact," said Dean Fischer, West Monroe Partners' president and CEO.  "This work builds on our collaboration with the City of Chicago to drive economic value from its Climate Action Plan, and it enables us to combine strengths in the energy and utilities arena with our passion for sustainability in an initiative that will make a tangible difference."

"With help from Sun Shot, we will make it easier and cheaper for Chicagoans to take advantage of solar power," said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "Solar energy can create a greener Chicago by controlling energy costs, creating jobs and reducing air pollution."

"There is an enormous opportunity and market for rooftop solar power in Chicago," said Dr. Mohammad Shahidehpour, Director of the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation at Illinois Institute of Technology.  "This project will help us understand and reduce the technical barriers to a large penetration of distributed solar power on the electrical grid."


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