At a recent Chicago solar event, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the launch of a new program, Chicago Solar Express, designed to streamline the permitting, zoning, and connection process for installing solar panels on residential and commercial properties.
The program has incorporated a new platform, the Online Interconnection and Net Metering Enrollment tool launched this month by ComEd – the Commonwealth Edison Company.
The platform allows consumers to submit, track, and pay for applications to connect to the electric grid.
ComEd’s net metering program is available to residential and commercial customers who own or operate an on-site, eligible renewable electric generator of up to 2,000 kW that generates electricity for the consumer’s own use.
Customers are eligible who have renewable electric generators that are powered by solar electric energy (i.e., photovoltaic), wind, crops grown for electric generation, fuel cells, as well as waste processed from livestock or food. Customers using hydroelectric energy and that use microturbines powered by renewable fuels are also eligible.
ComEd added that the net metering provides customers with credit for excess energy generated.
The mayor’s office said that these reforms will slash wait times for solar permits for smaller projects from 30 days to one day, and cut fees from $375 to $275, a 25 percent reduction.
The city and its partners, including the Environmental Law and Policy Center and West Monroe Partners, developed these reforms with the assistance of a $750,000 grant received from the DOE SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge.
The goal of the SunShot challenge was to spur cost reductions for rooftop solar energy system installations for residential and commercial properties through improving permitting, zoning, net metering, and the interconnection process.
The SunShot grant also provided additional funding for the mayor’s environmental agenda Sustainable Chicago 2015, which is a plan organized into seven sustainability categories – economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation options; water and wastewater; parks, open space, and healthy food; waste and recycling; and climate change – to create improvements for making the city more sustainable by 2015.