Governor Pat Quinn signed two new laws Tuesday aimed at making Illinois homeowners more energy independent.
House Bill 5429 creates the Homeowners’ Solar Energy Act, which allows homeowners to construct solar panels on their homes, as long as they follow certain guidelines.
Solar panels turn sunlight into energy. There is enough solar radiation each day to meet the Earth’s energy needs for an entire year. Solar panels help us harvest this energy and convert it into usable energy.
Under the new law, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin), homeowners’ associations can’t stop homeowners from installing solar panels on their units.
The other bill, House Bill 6202, requires utility companies Commonwealth Edison and Ameren to begin purchasing solar energy by 2012, three years earlier than the previous 2015 deadline.
Under that new law, sponsored by Rep. William Burns (D-Chicago) and Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the power industry must buy .5 percent of its power from solar sources by June 1, 2012; 1.5 percent by June 1, 2013; 3 percent by June 1, 2014; then 6 percent by June 1, 2015 and each year after that.
“Solar energy is the wave of the future, and it is important that our public utilities and homeowners are able to more easily increase their use of solar energy,” said Governor Quinn. “We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources, such as foreign oil.”
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Governor Quinn was a busy man on Tuesday, as he also attended the ribbon cutting of Elgin-based Wanxiang America Corporation’s new solar panel manufacturing plant in Rockford.
There, the Governor announced funding for the first phase of the Rockford Solar Project, which will be the largest solar field development in the Midwest.
Illinois is providing more than $4 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for the project, which will increase solar energy production in the state and create jobs.
The Rockford Project will save more than 40 million gallons of water each year and will reduce about 28 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each day.
“The state’s investment will help ensure Illinois remains a leader in renewable energy development, while continuing to build on the state’s energy independence goals,” said Governor Quinn. “With partnerships with companies like Wanxiang, we’re creating hundreds of sustainable, green-collar jobs and providing an economic boost to the entire state.”