Renewable Energy in Illinois [2024 Guide]

Wind turbines at a wind farm providing renewable energy in Illinois
  • Feb 1, 2024

At the forefront of sustainable energy transition in the American Midwest is the state of Illinois. With an increasingly green energy mix, aggressive renewable energy goals, and a multitude of incentive programs to encourage adoption, Illinois is cementing its place as a regional leader in the move towards a more sustainable future. This move towards renewable energy is not just about environmental stewardship, but it also presents significant economic opportunities and the potential for citizens to save on energy costs.

Benefits of Renewable Energy in Illinois

The transition to renewable energy in Illinois offers a wealth of benefits that extend beyond the environment. Unsurprisingly, the most immediate advantage is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with global efforts to mitigate climate change. By switching to renewable energy sources, Illinois reduces its reliance on fossil fuels, decreasing its carbon footprint and contributing to cleaner air and water.

But the benefits don't stop there. The renewable energy sector is also a substantial economic driver for the state. According to the Solar Education Association, Illinois currently hosts 5,520 solar jobs, a figure set to rise exponentially as the state expands its clean energy portfolio – and by 2023, Illinois' total solar investment is projected to exceed $3.7 billion, signaling a significant economic boost and job growth potential.

Renewable energy projects also serve to invigorate local communities, offering job opportunities and providing a platform for investment in education and training programs. These initiatives ensure that a diverse, well-trained workforce is ready to meet the demands of the future.


Illinois Energy Mix: How Much is Renewable?

In Illinois, a significant portion of the energy mix is transitioning towards renewable sources. As of 2021, clean energy sources like wind and solar account for 11% of Illinois' net electricity generation, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

Fossil fuels like coal and natural gas are still prevalent energy sources in Illinois. However, new legislation such as the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act signals a decisive shift towards renewables. Under this law, Illinois aims to reach 100% clean energy by 2050, with interim goals of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040.

Graphic comparing the typical energy mix in Illinois to the mix from CleanChoice Energy. The typical energy mix is 11% clean, while CleanChoice Energy offers 100% clean energy.

Solar Energy in Illinois

Despite Illinois's temperate climate, solar energy is a viable and increasingly significant player in the state's renewable energy portfolio. With advances in technology, solar panels have become more efficient and less dependent on high levels of sunlight to generate power. This makes them an excellent option even in states like Illinois, which experiences a mix of sunny and cloudy days.

Solar energy in Illinois is not just limited to larger solar farms, although these are becoming increasingly common. Many residents and businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of installing their own solar energy systems. Statewide initiatives such as the Illinois Shines and Illinois Solar for All programs encourage this trend by offering financial incentives and assistance for both residential and commercial solar installations.

Moreover, the adoption of net metering in Illinois allows consumers with solar energy systems to offset their electricity costs further. Under net metering, excess power generated by a consumer's solar panels is fed back into the grid, earning them credit against their electricity bill.

The future of solar energy in Illinois is bright, with new projects, legislative support, and community interest all pointing towards an increase in solar energy's contribution to the state's renewable energy mix.


Wind Energy in Illinois

Illinois has already established itself as a leader in wind energy within the Midwest. Wind farms, particularly in the northern and central parts of the state, have become a significant part of the Illinois landscape. Wind turbines dot the flat prairies, capturing the ample wind resources to generate renewable electricity. Illinois is currently ranked fifth in the nation for installed wind energy capacity, producing more than 11% of all electricity in the state.


Illinois Renewable Energy Goals

Under the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, Illinois has committed itself to ambitious renewable energy targets. The state is now on a path towards 100% clean energy by 2050, with interim goals of 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040. To achieve these targets, the state has introduced a range of measures and programs.

Private coal-fired and oil-fired electric generating units must reach zero emissions by January 1, 2030. Municipal coal and private natural gas-fired units have until 2045 to achieve the same target. The law also incentivizes the transition of coal plants to renewable energy facilities and promotes the investigation of carbon capture and sequestration.

These goals, coupled with measures such as workforce development programs, consumer protections, and efforts to foster diversity and inclusion within the renewable industry, make the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act a landmark piece of legislation. This comprehensive approach to combating climate change and building a sustainable economy positions Illinois at the forefront of the nation's clean energy movement.


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Sun rising over solar panels in a solar farm in Illinois

Average Electric Bill in Illinois

When it comes to electricity expenses, Illinois residents enjoy bills that are lower than the national average. As of February 2024, the average Illinois electric bill is approximately $159 per month, lower than the national average. This lower cost is achieved alongside an average electricity rate of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Transitioning to renewable energy sources has the potential to maintain, if not reduce these costs further. As renewable energy infrastructure becomes more efficient and widespread, the associated costs continue to decrease. Moreover, the state's commitment to residential customer protections in the transition to renewable energy ensures that the economic benefits of clean energy will be equitably shared.


Illinois Renewable Energy Incentives

To accelerate the adoption of renewable energy, Illinois offers a range of incentives and programs. The Illinois Shines program, also known as the Adjustable Block Program, offers Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) to homeowners for every 1,000 kWh of energy their solar system produces. These SRECs can be sold to local power companies, helping them to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standards mandate of generating at least 25% of their energy from renewable resources by 2025.

The Illinois Solar for All program offers low-income residents and nonprofit organizations the opportunity to participate in community solar programs or install solar panels at a reduced cost. This three-part program eliminates upfront costs and guarantees energy savings for participants.

Additional incentives include property tax exemptions for homeowners who install solar systems, city rebates for green building projects, and net metering programs, which allow solar owners to earn credits for unused energy their systems produce.

Federal incentives such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which offers a credit equal to 30% of solar installation costs, are also available to Illinois residents. These robust incentives, combined with the falling costs of renewable energy technologies, make renewable energy an increasingly attractive option for Illinois residents.


How You Can Choose Renewable Energy in Illinois

Looking for an easy way you can make the switch to renewable energy? Individuals in the ComEd territory in Illinois can easily go green through CleanChoice Energy. CleanChoice Energy empowers Illinois residents to choose renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, to power their homes. This not only significantly reduces dependence on fossil fuels but also contributes to a cleaner energy future for the state.

Join the green revolution today. Learn more about how easy it is to choose 100% pollution-free renewable energy, take control of your energy sources, and support Illinois in achieving its ambitious renewable energy goals.


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¹Typical default utility energy mix for customers in IL. Source: www.eia.gov, 2021 "Electric power industry generation by primary energy source." CleanChoice Energy has high standards for defining "clean" energy. While nuclear and hydro do not emit greenhouse gasses, generation from these sources have other negative environmental consequences.


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