Illinois electricity prices average $0.13/kWh, just below the national average of $0.14/kWh. The state exports roughly one fifth of the energy it produces. Illinois leads the nation in nuclear power generation, accounting for about one-eighth of all nuclear power generated nationally.
Thanks to Illinois' Adjustable Block Program (ABP), the average cost of a 7.5kW (equivalent to saving about 150 trees a year) solar power system starts at a very low $15,000. Before any other offsets, in the first year you’d save about $1,300, compared to if you had been paying the normal rates for the energy you used. These savings can continue for well over 25 years, improving with inflation.
This depends on may factors such as your system size, power output, and financing. Here are the main ways you can finance your home solar power system, and the kinds of returns you may expect to see:
From our example above, the homeowner purchased a 7.5kW system to offset their energy bill. Overhead cost was $15,000, with a significant proportion returned in the first year through incentives, rebates, and savings, then paying itself in full over 8 years.
Most solar power systems have a warranty lifetime of 25 years. In that time, between incentives and paying lower rates you could make a profit of around $31,000 - more than twice the up-front cost of the system!
Even with occasional maintenance or part replacement, that is a massive savings. Solar panel power output falls on average 0.8% per year, so with a little TLC and load management you can extend the life of your system well beyond the warranty’s expiration date, continuing to save indefinitely.
Whether or not you can afford the up-front cost of the install, you may want to consider a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). With equity in your home, or good credit, you may qualify for a 15-year solar HELOC with fixed rate of 4% or lower.
Starting with that same 7.5kW system costing $15,000 but with zero up-front cost, accounting for incentives, credits, rebates, and annual energy savings starting around $1,200, you could see a revenue surplus of about $4,300 at the end of the first year.
Save some of that money though. Your loan payments will likely exceed your power savings by about $150/year for the 15-year term. Once the loan is paid off, you can expect to save about $1,700 a year. Over 25 years you could expect to make about $25,600.
With a Power-Purchase Agreement (PPA) the homeowner leases their roof to an outside party, usually a power company. Generally PPAs feature a fixed price per kWh, with either a fixed term or an annual escalator.
With a PPA, the cost of installation, repair, and maintenance to the homeowner is usually $0.00. For that 7.5kW system, with a PPA you could expect to save just under $200/month on energy. Over 25 years, you could see over $7,000 in revenue - without accounting for inflation. That’s technically an infinite return!
PPA’s can be complicated, as you are effectively ceding at least some control of your home to the third party, but they are an excellent way to get into solar because they have no overhead.
Data from DSIRE. For more info visit: https://www.dsireusa.org/
|Name||Implementing Sector||Program Type||Administrator||DSIRE ID|
|Special Assessment for Solar Energy Systems||State||Property Tax Incentive||Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity||138|
|Alternative Energy Bond Fund Program||State||Grant Program||Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity||201|
|Chicago - Industry Recruitment||Local||Industry Recruitment/Support||418|
|Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||486|
|Illinois Renewable Fuels Development Program||State||Grant Program||Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity||945|
|Energy Efficiency Trust Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||2291|
|Renewable Energy Grants for Schools||State||Grant Program||2712|
|Green Neighborhood Grants||State||Grant Program||Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity||2759|
|Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Fund||State||Public Benefits Fund||2868|
|Local Option - Contractual Assessments for Renewable Energy and/or Energy Efficiency||State||PACE Financing||Programs administered locally||3626|
|Statewide Renewable Energy Setback Standards||State||Solar/Wind Permitting Standards||3679|
|Solar and Wind Rights||State||Solar/Wind Access Policy||4296|
|City of Chicago - Energy Standards for Public Buildings (The Chicago Standard)||Local||Energy Standards for Public Buildings||4718|
|Distributed Generation Contractor Licensing||State||Solar/Wind Contractor Licensing||5160|
|Peoples Gas - Residential Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||Peoples Gas||5233|
|North Shore Gas - Residential Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||5235|
|ComEd - Business Instant Lighting Discounts Program||Utility||Rebate Program||5317|
|Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas - Bonus Rebate Program||Utility||Rebate Program||Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas||5397|
|North Shore Gas - Single Family Direct Install||Utility||Rebate Program||5402|
|Peoples Gas - Single Family Direct Install||Utility||Rebate Program||5403|
|City of Chicago - Solar Express Permit Program||State||Green Building Incentive||City of Chicago||5572|
|City of Chicago - Solar Express Permit Program||Local||Solar/Wind Permitting Standards||5839|
|Recycle My Fridge||State||Rebate Program||5879|
|City of Chicago - Solar Zoning Policy||Local||Solar/Wind Access Policy||5917|
|Commonwealth Edison Co. - Energy Insights Online||Other||Energy Analysis||Commonwealth Edison Co.||15060|
|Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of Wisconsin) - Energy Consulting||Non-Profit||Energy Analysis||Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of Wisconsin)||16171|
|Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of Wisconsin) - Back of the Envelope Calculator||Non-Profit||Energy Analysis||Seventhwave (formerly Energy Center of Wisconsin)||16172|
|Illinois Solar Energy Association - ISEA Events Calendar||Non-Profit||Training and Information||Illinois Solar Energy Association||16625|
|National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center - Workforce Training||Other||Training and Information||National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center||16626|
|North Shore Gas - Gas Optimization Study Program||Other||Energy Analysis||North Shore Gas||17124|
|Peoples Gas - Gas Optimization Study||Other||Energy Analysis||Peoples Gas||17125|
|Commonwealth Edison Co. - Incentives||Other||Training and Information||Commonwealth Edison Co.||19144|
|Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance - Midwest Industrial Initiative||Non-Profit||Energy Analysis||Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance||19248|
|North Shore Gas - Small Business Program||Other||Energy Analysis||North Shore Gas||19427|
|Peoples Gas - Small Business Program||Other||Energy Analysis||Peoples Gas||19438|
|St. Charles Electric Utility - Green Power Program||Other||Other||St. Charles Electric Utility||19503|
|U.S. Department of Energy - University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Industrial Assessment Center (IAC)||Federal||Energy Analysis||U.S. Department of Energy||19673|
|City Water Light & Power - Energy Audits and Assistance||Local||Energy Analysis||City Water Light & Power||20222|
|City Water Light & Power - CWLP's Renewable Choice Program||Other||Other||City Water Light & Power||20262|
|Nicor Gas - Business Assessments||Other||Energy Analysis||Nicor Gas||20586|
|Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance - Building Operator Certification||Non-Profit||Training and Information||Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance||20979|