Cool idea: Nexamp, ComEd are giving away solar to low-income residents in Rockford, Illinois


Here’s something cool: Mayor Tom McNamara of Rockford, Illinois joined Nexamp and ComEd to launch Give-A-Ray, a new 15-year program to provide solar energy benefits and savings to low and moderate income customers in Rockford and the surrounding area free of charge.

The first program of its kind in Illinois, Give-A-Ray will enable about 650 ComEd customers annually to enroll and receive community solar credits at no cost. ComEd will pay for the community solar credits on behalf of customers and manage the identification and enrollment of subscribers to the project.

“Rockford places a high priority on using more renewable energy to generate electricity and on making sure the many benefits are available to customers regardless of income level,” said Mayor Tom McNamara. “We thank Nexamp and ComEd for bringing this innovative offering to Rockford and we look forward to working with them to increase access to solar among residents who are most in need.”

Community solar allows all customers to participate in the benefits of clean solar energy without having to install panels on their own homes. Participants subscribe to a solar energy project and earn credits on their monthly utility bills for their portion of the energy the solar project produces.

Eligible customers can earn credits on 75% of their average yearly energy usage, which results in a savings of about $250 annually. Credits will vary monthly based on the amount of energy produced by the community solar project and the seasonal impact on energy generation. Give-A-Ray is enabled by the Illinois Solar for All Program, which was established by the Future Energy Jobs Act enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in 2016.

“We worked closely with ComEd to develop a strong partnership and design a joint program that delivers significant savings to qualified community solar subscribers,” said Allan Telio, senior vice president of community solar at Nexamp. “We credit ComEd for their vision, leadership and enthusiasm in jointly developing this program with us to ensure it will deliver maximum benefits to customers. I hope other utilities will follow their lead.”

Nexamp’s Rockford community solar farm will add more solar energy to the local grid in the fall of 2021 when it begins operation, bringing immediate benefits to hundreds of residents in surrounding communities. The project is sited north of downtown Rockford on a former city landfill, giving new life to an otherwise unusable plot of land. The project features more than 6,600 solar panels with 2.6 MW of solar generation capacity.

“Give-A-Ray offers income eligible customers in the Ogle and Winnebago communities the opportunity to take advantage of community solar without paying for community solar credits,” said Scott Vogt, vice president, strategy and energy policy, ComEd. “This long-term program demonstrates ComEd’s and Nexamp’s shared commitment to lifting up communities in need by ensuring equitable access to clean energy.”

With the help of local support services, including the Rockford Housing Authority, outreach to potential participants is underway. Requirements are available here.

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