Attention Illinois! Act now before its too late!

The state of Illinois is launching the biggest and most aggressive procurement program for renewables in the country. This program could pay for 30% of your system's total cost, depending on your system's size and where it is located. Add that to your 30% federal tax credit and you have more than ½ of your system paid for. That's 60% off the total cost of your solar array. Don't forget about Depreciation. You can now depreciate 80% of your solar system in the first year. See your accountant or tax consultant for additional details and eligibility requirements.   

What is Illinois Shines?

Illinois Shines1 is the brand name of the Adjustable Block Program, a state-administered program for new solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems. The program provides payments in exchange for 15 years of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (“SRECs”) generated by new PV systems. These payments, made by Illinois utilities, vary depending on the system’s size and where it is located. Participating in Illinois Shines is the same thing as participating in the Solar Adjustable Block Program.

What are Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) and why are they valuable?

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) represent the environmental value of the electricity generated from solar panels, but not the electricity itself. Whoever owns the SRECs has the right to say they used that solar power. Utilities must purchase SRECs to meet their obligation to supply a certain amount of power from renewable energy. SRECs can also be valuable to businesses seeking to be able to say that they use solar power.   

A home PV system might generate 50-200 SRECs over 15 years. By participating in Illinois Shines, you will transfer the SRECs from your PV system to an Illinois electric utility. Selling your SRECs will not affect your PV system’s production.

For more information on SRECs, see this video on vimeo.   

Do you have to allow your SRECs to be sold to go solar?

Although you can keep your SRECs or sell them to someone besides utilities, participating in Illinois Shines and thus allowing your SRECs to be sold to a utility is likely to be your best financial option. Selling your SRECs through this program will make it more likely that your PV system will save you money.

What information will you receive before you sign an Installation contract?

Your contractor is required to provide you with an Illinois Shines Standard Disclosure Form. It includes contact information for everyone who has a part in your solar contract, information about the installation process, and an estimate of your system’s costs and how much money you may save.  Review this form carefully.

What are the financing and ownership options when installing solar?

The most common options are 1) buying the system, 2) leasing the system, or 3) signing a Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”). If you lease or sign a PPA, you don’t own the system, but you get many of the benefits. For more information, see
When deciding on the best option for you, consider:

  • If you’re buying the system, how much will it cost? Will you take out a loan to pay for it? How do the loan payments compare to projected reductions in your monthly electric bill?

  • If you’re leasing, how much is your monthly lease payment? How does that compare to projected reductions in your monthly electric bill. Do you have to put money down at the start?

  • If you’re signing a PPA, how much is the per kilowatt hour price for the energy produced? How does that compare to your current electricity rate? Do you have to put money down at the start?

  • Does your lease or PPA include an escalation clause that increases the amount of payments over time? If so, by how much do payments increase?

If you get solar panels, are you guaranteed to save money?


You are not guaranteed to save money unless your contract includes an explicit guarantee. The questions below will affect whether you save money. You can answer some questions yourself, while others can be answered by your installer or sales agent.

  • What per kilowatt-hour rate are you currently paying for electricity?

  • The higher the electricity rate before you go solar, the more money you can potentially save.

  • Is your roof good for solar?

  • The direction your roof faces and how much shade it gets will affect how much electricity roofmounted PV will generate. The roof’s condition should also be considered.

  • How much electricity will the system generate?

  • If your system produces more electricity than you use over an annual period, you may not receive credit for all the electricity generated.

  • How much money will you receive for SRECs? The Approved Vendor will be paid by a utility for your system’s RECs and may use some of that money to reduce your cost of going solar.

  • Can you use the federal Investment Tax Credit?

  • If you buy your system, you may qualify for a substantial federal income tax credit. Consult your tax adviser.

  • How long do you expect to stay in your home or business location? If you lease or sign a PPA, you may be required to buy out the contract if you move. Read your contract to find out what happens if you move

What is net metering and how do you enroll?

Net metering measures the electricity your PV system produces and credits you for it on your electric bill. If you buy electricity from your utility (e.g., basic service or hourly pricing), you must contact the utility to enroll in net metering. If you buy electricity from a Retail Electric Supplier (e.g., through municipal aggregation or an individual contract), you must contact the supplier to enroll in net metering. If you later change your electricity supplier, you will need to re-enroll in net metering with your new supplier. Failure to enroll or re-enroll may significantly impact the value you receive from your PV system.




Consumer rights

For your PV system to participate in Illinois Shines, an Approved Vendor will submit your PV system for application to the program. (The Approved Vendor will be identified on the Standard Disclosure Form you receive.) If the application is approved and after the system starts operating, the Approved Vendor will receive payments for the first 15 years of your system’s RECs. You have a right to request information about your system’s application status and how much a utility is paying for its RECs. Some of that information will be on the Standard Disclosure Form. The Approved Vendor must respond to issues related to ensuring that your PV system is generating electricity and producing RECs. Only companies that are Approved Vendors can submit your system to participate in the program.

Complaint procedures

If you have a problem related to your PV system or the sales process, first try to resolve it with your installer  or the Approved Vendor. If you  can’t agree about how to solve the problem, you may contact the Illinois Shines/Adjustable Block  Program Administrator by emailing or by   calling 877-783-1820.  If you have been subject to fraudulent or deceptive sales practices, the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division may be able to help. Customers can contact it at:
800-386-5438  | TTY: 800-964-3013
800-243-0618 | TTY: 877-844-5461
800-243-0607 | TTY: 877-675-9339
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