Month: May 2020

COVID-19 Marketing Guidelines Update and Clarifications

The Illinois Power Agency provides the following communication as an update and clarification of its prohibition on in-person marketing and solicitation issued on March 20, 2020.

At present, the IPA’s emergency revisions to its marketing guidelines prohibiting in-person marketing and solicitation remain in effect until further notice.  In responding to questions about when that prohibition may be lifted, the IPA has offered the following statement:

Given the unknown trajectory of COVID-19 and by when social distancing measures can safely be eased, the Illinois Power Agency cannot offer an estimate for by when person-to-person solar solicitations will be once again allowed under the Adjustable Block Program or the Illinois Solar for All Program.  However, the Agency’s approach is likely to track the approach taken by the Illinois Commerce Commission and other state public utility commissions regarding their in-person solicitation prohibitions applicable to retail electric supply products. In addition, the Agency will also be closely monitoring the Governor’s Executive Orders, disaster declaration, and stay-at-home orders before making any determination. 

The IPA understands that some (and possibly all) regions of Illinois may reach Phase 3 in Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Reopening Plan on May 29th.  While a change to a region’s status will not necessarily determine whether the IPA’s in-person marketing and solicitation prohibition remains in place for that region, the IPA plans to assess the basis for its prohibition at that time and hopes to offer further guidance during the first week of June.  Possible changes could include relaxation of prohibitions for certain regions or for select types of activities, but no determinations have yet been made, nor will be made, until that time.

Over the past two months, the IPA has received questions about the scope of the current prohibitions; clarifications offered are memorialized below.

  • Project development work (such as system installation) is not prohibited under the IPA’s revised marketing guidelines. However, all Approved Vendors should operate mindful of this ongoing public health emergency and the Governor’s Executive Orders.  Additionally, under no circumstances should installation activity proceed over the objections of the customer or property owner.
  • More passive forms of in-person marketing and solicitation – such as tabling at retail stores or events, or door-to-door distribution of marketing materials such as advertising flyers – are prohibited. The IPA’s objective is to reduce unnecessary person-to-person contact in connection with the marketing of photovoltaic systems or community solar subscriptions, and these activities increase the likelihood of unnecessary person-to-person interactions.

Lastly, should you have any questions about the scope of this prohibition, please contact the IPA’s Chief Legal Counsel at Brian.Granahan@Illinois.gov.

We look forward to providing you with additional guidance in approximately two weeks’ time.

 

Stakeholder Comments – REC contract

As part of the implementation of the IPA’s Revised Long-Term Plan, a substantial refresh to the Adjustable Block Program REC contract  is being conducted. On April 9, 2020 The Illinois Power Agency issued a request for comments on a refreshed REC contract for the Adjustable Block Program. Responses were due on May 12, 2020. The ten comments the Agency received can be viewed here.

The Adjustable Block Program Administrator would like to thank all stakeholders that provided comments on the  Adjustable Block Program REC contract, and will be announcing the next steps in the process shortly.

Ameren Illinois

Carbon Solutions Group

Central Road Energy

Certasun

ComEd

Cypress Creek Renewables

ENGIE

Joint Solar Parties

SRECTrade

Sustain Rockford

Part I and Part II ABP Application Changes

The IPA’s Revised Long-Term Plan, published by the IPA on April 20, 2020, contains several changes to Part I and Part II of the ABP project application. The Program Administrator has implemented these changes which are now live. The following are details regarding each change:

Part I Changes

  • Providing a shading study is no longer a required upload for any application. (Upload removed from Part I)
  • Language is added to the application noting that an Interconnection Agreement (IA), required for systems >25 kW AC, must be signed by both the interconnection customer and the interconnecting utility. The IA must be dated on or prior to the date of submission of the application. (Clarification of existing Part I requirement)
  • Ground-mounted systems larger than 250 kW AC must provide a land use permit from the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). If a land use permit is not applicable, the Approved Vendor must provide written confirmation from the AHJ that no permit is required. (New Part I upload)
  • Non-ministerial permits, other than the land use permit specified above for systems larger than 250 kW AC, are no longer required and have been removed from the Part I application. For those Approved Vendors and Designees that use the application CSV upload feature, non-ministerial permits have been made optional in the CSV, enabling you to continue to use the same CSV template without issue. (Uploads removed from Part I)

Part II Changes

  • The ICC Docket Number for the Certification of the DG Installer who is the installer of record is now required. (New required information in Part II)
  • For systems that include a battery, a detailed schematic must be provided showing that either only solar-generated power can be used to charge the battery or that the battery’s output does not run through the meter used to measure solar output. (New Part II upload)

Changes that apply to both Part I and Part II

  • Bifacial panels are now an option in the application. (New option for both Part I and Part II)

Should you have questions about any of these changes, please contact the Program Administrator at admin@illinoisabp.com.

Tentative Timeline of Changes from the Revised Long-Term Plan

On February 18, 2020, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the Illinois Power Agency’s Revised Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, and the Agency published a final version of the Revised Plan on April 20, 2020. The Revised Plan includes a number of aspects of the Adjustable Block Program that will be updated or modified. In order to provide information on the implementation of those Program changes the IPA and Program Administrator present this list of Program modifications and expected completion dates. Completion dates are tentative and subject to change.

Extension Request Checklist for Approved Vendors

The IPA is issuing this clarification regarding system energization date extension requests under Section 5(b) of the ABP REC contract.

Each extension request should reference the specific contract clause under which an extension is sought (i.e., which subparagraph of Section 5(b) is being relied upon) and should avoid referencing multiple clauses in a single request (as multiple clauses may implicate multiple distinct processes and decision-makers for the request).  For COVID-19-related extensions, the most straightforward path may be a request for a “good cause” extension granted at the IPA’s discretion under Section 5(b)(v) of the REC contract rather than the declaration of a force majeure event or reliance on a separate subparagraph of Section 5(b).   

Each extension request should include, at minimum, a brief narrative outlining the justification for the request. This narrative should clearly explain the situation under which the Approved Vendor believes an extension is warranted for the referenced systems.  If extensions are being requested for multiple systems and the narrative is similar, a single extension request may be made for multiple systems (although please provide separate requests for each contracting utility).

The IPA also strongly encourages that each of the following be included in an extension request.

  1. Approved Vendor Name (as listed in your AV portal in the ABP portal)     
  2. Approved Vendor ID #  
  3. Designated System ID #
  4. Project Name
  5. Project Type (distributed generation or community solar)
  6. Contract ID #     
  7. Batch ID #           
  8. Trade Date
  9. Contracting Utility           
  10. REC Contract Clause Referenced (e.g., Section 5.b.v)
  11. Length of Extension Requested
  12. Original Energization Date           
  13. Requested New Energization Date

For requests covering multiple systems, please include this information in a spreadsheet attached to the request.

Lastly, please double-check the accuracy of this information, including whether a given system is still under contract, prior to submitting an extension request.  And remember that under Section 5(b), requests must be “made in writing by Seller to Buyer and the IPA prior to the Scheduled Energized Date.”  Buyer contact information is contained in Section 13 of the ABP Contract and requests to the IPA should be sent to IPA.solar@illinois.gov

Should you have any questions prior to submitting a request, please contact IPA Chief Legal Counsel Brian Granahan at Brian.Granahan@Illinois.gov

Stakeholder Comments on Marketing Guidelines, Community Solar Disclosure Form, and Application Batching Process

The Illinois Power Agency published three requests for stakeholder feedback in April 2020. The requests for comment regarding both the Marketing Guidelines and Community Solar Disclosure Form were announced on April 3, 2020 and due on April 28, 2020. The request for comments regarding the Adjustable Block Program Application Batching Process was published on April 15, 2020 and due on April 29, 2020.
You can view the stakeholder comments for both the Marketing Guidelines and Community Solar Disclosure Form, and for the Adjustable Block Program Application Batching Process below.

The Adjustable Block Program Administrator would like to thank all stakeholders that provided comments on the recent requests for comment about the Adjustable Block Program Marketing Guidelines, Community Solar Disclosure Form, and Application Batching Process.