Utility Coops of Cook County: What They Are and Can Be
Citizens Utility Board monitors utilitiesfor equitable civilian service. Solar in the Community is creating a public utility that is people-owned and operated on a web-based platform.
What is the Citizens Utility Board and what does it do?
- represents consumers in things like fighting with utility companies
- a third party separate from the power companies and existing by law as an independent third party
- informs consumers about deceptive practices in deregulated energy sector
- can also counsel people on full availability of options to get energy for themselves
- has a large outreach team that will do presentations on how systems work, take advantage of subsidies, etc.
How did the Solar in the Community project come about?
- Environmental Defense fund helped create
- Trying to figure out a way to build solar without developers as gatekeepers
- Developers will reach out to communities to help facilitate process
- Law says that energy companies have to work with this project
Community Solar is:
- Comes from Future Energy Jobs Act (December 2016)
- Will support smaller version of solar farm (less than 2 megawatts of production)
- People can subscribe into it even if they can’t have own solar panels
- State will pay for your solar generation and count it towards 25% renewable 2025 goal through different levels of credits
- site launches in September
- only 10 projects on there right now right now (from all over the state)
- trying to get word out now because the process to apply and organize will take time
How will this project affect the power grid?
- will minimize line loss that normally comes from transporting energy from far away
- fairly closely lines up with peak energy usage during the day
- working with peak usage can help avoid ConEd having to employ extra power during the hot summer days and thus keep rates lower
How to proceed on applying:
- need an anchor subscriber who can commit to using 40% of energy generated but the rest can be subscribed out later on
- anyone can start filling out form on website, even if you don’t have everything lined up
Could we use places like landfills to house solar projects?
- project was proposed in Carbondale about building on a brownfield
- building in areas like this would add extra regulations and costs
What about privatization and reversing privatization of municipal energy companies?
- After the 2008 crisis, previous rates were not fair or affordable for consumers
- around 400 municipalities in IL re-negotiated contracts to have better rates
- ConEd energy rate is the same as the market rate