Utility Coops of Cook County: What They Are and Can Be

photos of panelists

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