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Title: Facilitating Deployment of Community Solar PV Systems on Rooftops and Vacant Land in Northeast IL

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Funding OpportunitySolar Market Pathways
SunShot SubprogramSoft Costs
Location: Chicago, IL
Amount Awarded: $1,238,308
Awardee Cost Share: $424,898

Cook County Department of Environmental Control’s Solar Market Pathways project uses the current community solar market in Northeast Illinois to identify and establish models for community solar and eliminate barriers to implementation. The project analyzes the economics of different ownership structures (such as independent private entity, utility-sponsored, or group of subscribers), identifies the structural, regulatory, and policy barriers to community solar, and proposes strategies for overcoming those barriers. For more information on this award and the Solar Market Pathways program, visit their website


The project will inventory the current community solar marketplace in northeast Illinois and identify potential sites, customer base, and demand. The project team will then review inventories of owned and managed lands and assess the suitability of vacant lots and rooftops for a community project. For each eligible site, they will develop appropriate ownership, financing, and management models. The project team and partners will advance at least three of the five pilot projects to full plans with the goal of creating replicable models and best practices to guide other projects in the region and the country. 


Although Illinois has strong net metering policies and renewable energy standards, the concept of community solar and virtual billing practices are largely undeveloped. Detailed analysis of pilot case studies will create models and lessons learned that can be replicated across the region to help other projects succeed. These case studies will explore community solar configurations and installation models and identify project-ready sites for Cook County investment. They will also include strategies and information on how to resolve common community solar implementation barriers.