Great news today as Gov. Quinn enacts two new laws aimed at jumpstarting Illinois' solar energy industry. Sierra Club made these two bills, which are projected to create 5,000 new jobs, a top priority this year.
Illinois? Solar? You might be surprised, but Illinois gets as much available sunlight as Miami. Solar is getting much cheaper, and there are signs that it can be a growing industry in Illinois. Chicago has a new solar power plant on the south side, and a Chinese company, Wangxiang, is making solar panels in Rockford. Dozens of contractors are now seeking homeowners looking to go solar on their roofs.
This very young industry got a very big boost with Quinn's action today. The two bills signed into law make two simple, but critical changes:
-Illinois utilities must start buying some of the electricity we use in our homes from solar energy; and
-Condo & townhome associations can no longer bar solar installation on rooftops without legitimate safety concerns
Here's how these two changes promise to spur this industry of the future. First, anyone interested in developing a solar power plant in Illinois now knows that ComEd and Ameren must buy some of their power from plants like that. In this recession, those are the kind of market opportunities that leverage capital investment in our communities and our workers.
Second, homeowners who wanted to hire local contractors to install solar, but who couldn't due to outdated rooftop nuisance rules, can now hire those skilled workers to help them save money and cut pollution.
This is a very timely win - for Illinois, which needs all the job creation we can get. For America, wondering "what next" after the Senate's inaction on a clean energy climate bill, we are so proud to offer the country example of basic, yet bold changes we can make to choose a clean energy future.