Frequently Asked Questions

Program Application

Are non-ministerial permits required to apply for Block 1?

Systems over 25 kW must obtain all non-ministerial permits prior to applying for Block 1. On the project application Approved Vendors must attest that they have obtained all non-ministerial permits that, according to the commercially reasonable investigation of the Approved Vendor, are necessary to the project at the time of application to the Adjustable Block program. The Approved Vendor must list all such permits, along with the name, phone, and email of a contact person at the issuing authority. The Program Administrator will verify a random selection of permits and reserves the right to verify any permits that it deems require further investigation.

While there is no master list of ministerial and non-ministerial permits, for the avoidance of doubt, the NPDES permit is considered ministerial and not required for submission to the Adjustable Block Program.

 

Can I register less than the total planned capacity to qualify for a different Block award?
 No, The ABP Guidebook requires that DG systems entered into the ABP must include the entire output of the system. If there are multiple installations with separate interconnections, you can opt to not register the separately interconnected capacity.   Any capacity of a system which is not part of the ABP must be separately metered with a separate inverter.
A system can be built to be smaller than proposed in Part I while still staying within the greater of 5kW or 25%, but it would keep the lower REC price commensurate with the proposed larger system and the quantity of RECs used for purposes of payment shall be the lesser of the REC quantities calculated based on: (1) the Proposed Nameplate Capacity and Capacity Factor and (2) the Actual Nameplate Capacity and Capacity Factor. Please see Section 5(e) of the Final REC Contract for additional details.
How can a project demonstrate site control?

Site control must be evidenced through a binding contract for system purchase, lease, PPA, option, or other form. Non-binding documents such as a Letter of Intent do not meet this requirement. It’s acceptable for the binding contract to be contingent on the underlying project securing a REC contract in the Adjustable Block Program, however securing such a REC contract must satisfy that contingency, rendering the contract otherwise binding. In cases where the system owner and host are the same entity, site control can be demonstrated by a statement from the system owner and host that this is the case.

Is a signed interconnection agreement required to apply for Block 1?

A signed interconnection agreement is required to apply for the Program for all systems over 25 kW.

What is required for a project to apply for the Adjustable Block Program?

Please see the Program Guidebook for the specific application requirements for the Part I and Part II application. Part I in the initial application and Part II is for accepted projects when they completed and energized.

What is required in a shading study?
A shading study shall be completed for all projects. Suitable shading studies can include but are not limited to, using tools such as the Solar Pathfinder, Steprobotics, Helioscope, and HORIcatcher as well as or in conjunction with software designed to perform shading analysis. The shading study should include a list of obstructions with measurements to illustrate that the project meets the minimal shading criteria of no obstruction is closer than a distance (“D”) of twice the height (“H”) it extends above the PV array.
What is the application fee for the Adjustable Block Program?

The application fee for the Adjustable Block Program is $10/kW, not to exceed $5,000, per project. This application fee will be paid to the Program Administrator at the time the batch is submitted. The application fee for each project will be part of the batch submission process and the fee per project will be automatically calculated by the application portal.  Fees may be paid by wire or ACH direct deposit initiated by the applicant using a unique tracking code generated by the application portal in the wire or direct deposit notes section to allow matching of deposits to batch submissions by the Administrator. If the Approved Vendor opts for this payment method, the batch will not be deemed submitted until the application fee is received by the Program Administrator. Approved Vendors will also be offered the ability to request that the Program Administrator withdraw funds from their account via ACH or pay by credit card. The batch will be deemed submitted at the time of submission if either of these methods are used. Credit card payments will be subject to an additional fee of 2.9% of the total payment to account for credit card processing fees and will be limited to no more than $10,000 per month per Approved Vendor.

When can I apply for the program?

The program is currently open for applications from Approved Vendors.

The blocks for Community Solar are completely filled (though still accepting new project applications) and are subject to a very long waitlist.

All Distributed Generation Groups/categories currently have available capacity remaining. Please find the current status of each Group/category on the Adjustable Block Program Block Capacity Dashboard page.

General Questions

Are system nameplate sizes AC or DC?

The system sizes listed in the Plan are all AC system sizes based on the size of the inverter.

Can an ABP applicant withdraw their application once they find out which Block pricing their project will receive?

In the event of a Block 1 lottery for a Group/category, given the drop-off in REC prices between Block 1 and Block 3, some Approved Vendors may not wish to proceed with a project if that project would receive Block 3 pricing. As the Adjustable Block Program is predicated on price transparency and Approved Vendors may have submitted projects into Block 1 on the expectation of Block 1 pricing (possibly even without any expectation of a lottery), the Agency believes Approved Vendors should be allowed to decline a Block 3 award within a short timeframe after selection without additional process or penalty. The Agency thus will allow any project notified that it has received a REC contract with Block 3 pricing as the result of a previous Block’s lottery to have 5 business days to decline its selection prior to the underlying contract being forwarded for approval to the Illinois Commerce Commission. The Approved Vendor will be able to exercise this option without any further penalty, process, or the posting of collateral. If a project selected to be in Block 3 declines its selection by this option, then the next ordinally ranked project(s) on the waitlist will be selected for REC contract(s) at Block 3 pricing until Block 3 is filled, along with the same terms (5 business days to accept or decline). Projects declining a Block 3 contract award will be removed from the lottery order and will be ineligible to receive a contract with Block 4 pricing through the allocation of discretionary capacity. A project may exercise this option to decline a REC contract with Block 3 pricing by communicating as such in writing to the Program Administrator. The application fee is non-refundable.

Can I co-locate multiple distributed generation projects on one parcel of land or adjacent parcels if the aggregate size is over 2,000 kW?

Each unique utility customer may have one distributed generation project of up to 2,000 kW in the Adjustable Block Program.  Two or more utility customers that are affiliated and physically adjacent could each have a distributed generation project of up to 2,000 kW.

How long do I have to energize my system after acceptance to the Adjustable Block Program?

Distributed generation projects will be given one year to be developed and energized. Community solar projects will be given 18 months to be developed, energized, and demonstrate that they have sufficient subscribers. Extensions may be granted under certain circumstances, as described in more detail in Section 6.15.2 of the Approved Plan.

I live in a rural electric cooperative, municipal electric utility, or the Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company territory. Am I eligible to participate in the Adjustable Block Program?

The Illinois Power Agency’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan proposed allowing participation in the Adjustable Block Program (for REC incentive payments) by community solar and photovoltaic distributed generation projects located in the service territories of rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, and Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company. That proposal (along with the Long-Term Plan itself) was affirmed by the Illinois Commerce Commission in its Administrative Order issued on April 3, 2018 in ICC Docket No. 17-0838.

In June 2018, Commonwealth Edison Company filed a petition seeking review of that determination (i.e., an appeal) with the state’s Second District Appellate Court, case number 2-18-0504. On May 2, 2019, the Appellate Court affirmed the ICC’s decision in this regard.  The Commission’s decision allowing such projects to participate will thus continue to govern program implementation. As a consequence, barring unanticipated future judicial or legislative action, projects in the service territories of rural electric cooperatives, municipal electric utilities, and Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company, will be allowed to receive REC delivery contracts under the Adjustable Block Program.

Under court rules, it remains possible that the appellant (Commonwealth Edison Company) may pursue further appellate options.  While this ongoing uncertainty is unfortunate, we will provide additional details as they become available. Neither the IPA nor its Program Administrator can speculate on the likelihood of the Commission’s decision being overturned on appeal, the timeline for any such determination, or whether an appellate court’s determination would impact the contract or participation status of systems already energized or those with Adjustable Block Program contracts already in place. We will provide additional details on this issue as they become available in the Updates section of www.IllinoisABP.com, which you can subscribe to by entering your email address in the “Get email updates” box at the bottom of any page on the website.

Why was the Program opening delayed at the end of January?

As stated by the IPA in its January 4, 2019 announcement, the opening of the Adjustable Block Program was delayed from January 15, 2019 to January 30, 2019 to allow for additional time to refine the standard REC contract between Approved Vendors and utilities, after extensive concerns were raised by stakeholders during two rounds of comments on the First Draft REC Contract released on December 7, 2018. As the IPA stated in the January 4, 2019 announcement, “The Agency has considered the benefits and drawbacks of a minor delay and believes that an additional round of comments will ensure that any unintended consequences of new provisions and wordings in the second draft contract are identified and addressed prior to finalizing the contract.”

Will my information be kept confidential?

Except where otherwise provided (such as with certain project-specific information being made publicly available through publishing lottery results), Approved Vendor submittals including quarterly reports, annual reports, Approved Vendor applications, and project applications will not be publicly posted or made publicly available as a matter of course – provide that nothing included herein shall a) prohibit the IPA from reporting information taken from Approved Vendor submittals to appropriate authorities should the IPA have reasonable suspicion of any fraudulent or otherwise illegal behavior, b) prevent the IPA from making aggregated information taken from across Approved Vendor submittals publicly available, or c) prevent the IPA from sharing information received with the Illinois Commerce Commission or public utilities to support the Program’s operation.

Additionally, the IPA and the Program Administrator will provide confidential treatment to any commercially sensitive information submitted by Approved Vendors in connection with participation in the Adjustable Block Program. Under Section 1-120 of the IPA Act (20 ILCS 3855), the Illinois Power Agency has a statutory obligation to “provide adequate protection for confidential and proprietary information furnished, delivered, or filed” by any third party. As Section 7(1)(g) of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) (5 ILCS 140/7) exempts from disclosure “[t]rade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person or business where the trade secrets or commercial or financial information are furnished under a claim that they are proprietary, privileged or confidential, and that disclosure of the trade secrets or commercial or financial information would cause competitive harm to the person or business,” the IPA believes that its responsibility under Section 1-120 necessitates the assertion of this FOIA exemption when applicable in response to a FOIA request, and to otherwise protect the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information in response to any discovery request or other request made in connection with formal investigation or litigation. While the IPA will presume that submittals including quarterly reports, annual reports, Approved Vendor applications, and project applications are commercially sensitive (to the extent not reflecting public information, or otherwise obviously not commercially sensitive) and thus should be actively protected from disclosure, Approved Vendors should designate any particularly sensitive information as “confidential or proprietary” to maximize the likelihood that such information would be protected from disclosure by a reviewing body (such as a reviewing court or the state’s Public Access Counselor) in response to an appeal of the Agency’s determination that such information should not be disclosed in response to a FOIA request.

Will the Adjustable Block Program continue in subsequent years? (i.e. 2020 and 2021)

Section 1-75(c)(1)(C) of the Illinois Power Agency Act calls for at least 1,000,000 RECs annually from the Adjustable Block Program by the end of the 2020-2021 delivery year, then a cumulative 1,500,000 RECs annually from ABP by the end of 2025-2026, then a cumulative 2,000,000 RECs annually by end of 2030-2031. The existing ICC-approved Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan provides for the first 1,000,000 annual RECs through the ABP, which the Agency intends to select contracts for during calendar year 2019, subject to developer interest fully filling the blocks and subject to RPS budget constraints.  The Agency intends to eventually in future years, again subject to RPS budget constraints, select contracts for at least the first incremental 500,000 annual ABP RECs and then the second incremental 500,000 annual ABP RECs. The law provides for an update to the Long-Term Plan to be proposed by the Agency, first in draft form in August 2019 and then through a 90-day litigation process at the ICC beginning in September 2019.  These changes would take effect beginning in January 2020.

Approved Vendors

Can I self-install my system?

A system applying for the Adjustable Block Program can only be self-installed if the individual installing the system is a Qualified Person which is defined under 83 Ill. Adm. Code § 468.20 as:

“Qualified person” means a person who performs installations on behalf of the certificate holder and who has either satisfactorily completed at least five installations of a specific distributed generation technology or has completed at least one of the following programs requiring lab or field work and received a certification of satisfactory completion: an apprenticeship as a journeyman electrician from a DOL registered electrical apprenticeship and training program; a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) distributed generation technology certification program; an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) distributed generation technology certification program; an Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) distributed generation technology certification program; or an Associate in Applied Science degree from an Illinois Community College Board approved community college program in solar generation technology.

Please see Section 4 of the  Program Guidebook for the full requirements to install a Distributed Generation System.

Can I switch Approved Vendors after my distributed generation project on my home or building is accepted to the Adjustable Block Program?

Another Approved Vendor could obtain the rights to your project’s Adjustable Block Program REC contract, but only with the consent of your original Approved Vendor.  See Section 6.7 of the Approved Plan.

Do Approved Vendors need an account in PJM-GATS and/or M-RETS?

Proof of an account in PJM-GATS or M-RETS is required to become an Approved Vendor. This requirement is outlined in Section 6.9 of the Approved Plan.

In PJM-GATS an Approved Vendor can have a generator account (if they have a generator to register) or an aggregator/broker account (does not require a generator). Click here to view the various account types offered by PJM-GATS and the fees associated with those account types.
In M-RETS an Approved Vendor can have a General Subscription, a Project Subscription, a Small Generator Project Subscription, or a Micro Gen Project Subscription (only eligible for one 100 kW batch of generators). Click here to view the various account types offered by M-RETS and the fees associated with those account types.
Do Approved Vendors need to be Distributed Generation Installer certified?

No. The Distributed Generation Installer certification is required by all firms performing actual distributed generation installations, and as such an Approved Vendor may also be a Distributed Generation Installer. However, any entity that meets the Approved Vendor requirements can become an Approved Vendor and doesn’t necessarily need to be involved in the installation process at all, in which case they would not need to be certified as a Distributed Generation Installer.

Do solar installers need to be certified in Illinois?

Yes, there are two requirements for distributed generation installation in Illinois. The first is a company level requirement that Distributed Generation Installers be certified by the Illinois Corporation Commission (ICC). Details of this requirement can be found at the ICC’s Distributed Generation Installer page. A list of Certified Distributed Generation Installers can be found here. Any questions about this requirement should be directed to the ICC which oversees this program.

Additionally, installation of a photovoltaic system, if it will seek a REC contract under the Adjustable Block Program, must be done by a Qualified Person as defined under 83 Ill. Adm. Code § 468.20, which covers the qualifications required of the individuals who are actually installing the system.

What is required to become an Approved Vendor?

The Program Administrator has published a  set of Approved Vendor requirements and marketing material standard disclosure requirements.

Existing Solar Generator (systems built & energized after 2017-06-01)

Can I enter my home/small business system into the program myself?

All applications will have to be entered by an Approved Vendor. Larger (non-residential) systems of at least 100 kW can apply as a Single Project Approved Vendor.

For small systems that have already been built (and energized after June 1, 2017), if your installer does not become an Approved Vendor, or work with an Approved Vendor, you will need to choose an Approved Vendor from the Approved Vendor list to apply on your behalf once the program opens for project applications.  Each Approved Vendor may offer you different terms and you should choose carefully.

Systems will have to comply with all Program terms and conditions, which may require retroactive adjustments to the system or agreements with the installer.  Systems in the Adjustable Block Program must have been installed by an individual who is a “Qualified Person” as defined in Section 16-128A of the Illinois Public Utilities Act and Title 83, Part 468 of the Illinois Administrative Code.

Community Solar

How do I find a community solar project to participate in?

A list of approved community solar projects, with contact information, will be found here once projects are approved for participation in the Adjustable Block Program.  Please keep in mind that projects that are in development and have not yet applied to and been approved by the Adjustable Block Program will not appear here. Also keep in mind that some of the projects here may already be fully subscribed. This list will be populated once the program launches.

What is required to sell subscriptions in a community solar project?

The Program Administrator has published a set of community solar marketing material standard disclosures and requirements which can be found here. 

Program Block Capacity

Can funds be diverted from Group B (ComEd territory and nearby utility territories within PJM) project categories to Group A (Ameren Illinois territory, MidAmerican Energy territory, and nearby utility territories within MISO) project categories?

No. According to Sections 6.3 and 6.3.1 of the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, the allocations of capacity between Groups in Blocks 1, 2, and 3, for any project category, are made based on load forecasts and Renewable Portfolio Standard budget forecasts for the 2020-2021 delivery year. As a result, for any project category, the allocations are as follows:

  • Block 1: Group A 22 MW, Group B 52 MW
  • Block 2: Group A 22 MW, Group B 52 MW
  • Block 3: Group A 5.5 MW, Group B 13 MW

 

These allocations are fixed in the Plan and may not be changed. 166.5 MW of discretionary capacity remains, to be allocated to potential Block 4s across some or all of the six Group/category combinations. As mentioned in the Plan, contracts may be with an electric utility other than that utility in whose service territory the project is located; in allocating discretionary capacity, this flexibility could theoretically allow for a different allocation of additional project capacity across Groups, as while allocations for contracts must strictly adhere to budget allocations resultant from load forecasts, that balance between the physical location of systems need not be so strictly observed.

Why is the ComEd Large DG block larger than the Ameren Illinois Large DG block?

The relative capacity of project categories in Group B (ComEd territory and nearby utility territories within PJM) vs. the capacity of project categories in Group A (Ameren Illinois territory, MidAmerican Energy territory, and nearby utility territories within MISO) is based on load forecasts for each utility and the resulting projected Renewable Portfolio Standard budgets for ComEd, Ameren Illinois, and MidAmerican during the 2020-2021 delivery year. Based on this calculation, 70% of Adjustable Block Program capacity within any of the three project categories is allocated to Group B and 30% to Group A. More information on this can be found in Sections 3.1 and 6.3 of the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan.

Why is the Large DG category in Group A changed from 3 blocks to 2 and the amount from 66MW to 44MW? Where did the excess funds get reallocated?

The proposed Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan filed by the IPA on December 4, 2017 included the following Adjustable Block Program block allocation for Large DG projects in Group A: 22 MW in Block 1, 22 MW in Block 2, and 22 MW in Block 3. The Illinois Commerce Commission ultimately ruled on April 3, 2018 that 75% of the initially proposed Block 3 capacity, i.e. 16.5 MW in the Large DG category, be “held back” and allocated later to a Block 4 in some of the Group/category combinations, at the Agency’s discretion. The Group A, Large DG category was not changed from 3 blocks to 2 blocks; it still has 3 blocks, but Block 3 has been reduced in size from 22 MW to 5.5 MW to conform to the ICC’s ruling. This approach applies across all six Group/categories, so that 75% of all of the initially proposed Block 3s, totaling 166.5 MW or 25% of Program capacity as a whole, will be held back for later discretionary allocation. The Agency will endeavor to announce the allocation of the held-back capacity at a date prior to the lottery. For more information on this approach, please see the final Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan at Section 6.3 and the Lottery Procedure at Section F.

Why is the Small DG block only for systems up to 10kW? If the 25kW and under systems were part of the Small DG block, it would have better balanced the categories.

It is mandated by law that 25% of Adjustable Block Program capacity be allocated to distributed generation systems of up to 10 kW (plus 25% to DG systems of over 10 kW up to 2,000 kW, 25% to community solar systems, and the remaining 25% to be allocated in the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan). Prior to the revisions to the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard contained in Public Act 99-0906 (The “Future Energy Jobs Act”) there was a distinction made for DG at the 25 kW level. That provision was repealed and replaced with a 10 kW distinction. Furthermore, the Plan, which was approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, maintains the 25%-25%-25% allocation from the law across the three project categories (including the up to 10 kW or “Small DG” category) and determines that the remaining 25% shall be discretionarily allocated by the IPA to the three project categories (or more specifically, to the six Group/category combinations).

Discretionary Capacity

When are the discretionary funds going to be released?

The IPA released an announcement on April 3, 2019 detailing the allocation of discretionary capacity. All projects selected using discretionary capacity will receive Block 4 pricing.

Lottery

If I was awarded a Block 1 REC contract through the ABP lottery, am I obligated to sign that contract?

As the Program Guidebook states at page 35, “[T]he Program Administrator [will] submit contract information to the Commission for approval, [] includ[ing] the Program Administrator’s recommendation for approval of the batch[.]  Once a batch is approved by the Commission, the applicable utility will execute the [REC] contract. The Approved Vendor will then be required to sign the contract within seven business days of receiving it.”  This requirement covers a batch that is approved for a REC contract in a Block through the ordinary non-lottery procedures (see paragraphs C.2 through C.4 on pages 9-10 of the Program Guidebook), as well as a batch that is approved for a REC contract at Block 1 pricing as a result of a Block 1 lottery. Approved Vendors that do not accept the contract will face disciplinary measures that will impact their status as an Approved Vendor in the Program moving forward. It is expected that if a project batch is submitted to the ABP while Block 1 is open, the Approved Vendor is prepared to enter into a contract for Block 1 prices with the applicable utility, although there is an option for a project to withdraw its application within a reasonable time before a lottery occurs for its Group/category.  Through requirements in the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan and the Lottery Procedure, the Agency has generally sought to ensure that projects applying to the ABP are ready, willing, and able to advance to development and energization.

There are two exceptions to the general requirement that a project selected for a REC contract must have its Approved Vendor accept the selection. These exceptions, described in paragraphs B.6 and B.7 on pages 8-9 of the Program Guidebook, cover a project selected for Block 3 as the result of a Block 1 lottery, and a project selected for Block 4 from the lottery waitlist.

If one of my projects is not selected in the lottery, when is the next cycle?

There will not be another selection cycle during calendar year 2019 for Adjustable Block Program community solar projects after the respective lotteries.  For Group A, Large DG, the allocation of discretionary capacity left some space in Block 4 after all projects were selected for blocks through the lottery.  The timing and structure of future selection processes will be addressed when the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan is updated through an ICC proceeding in the fall of 2019.

What was the process for the Block 1 lottery?

This flowchart explains the lottery process for any given Block/category.  Three Group/category combinations (Group A, Large DG; Group A, Community Solar; and Group B, Community Solar) held lotteries on April 10, 2019.

Why were certain projects (i.e. previously installed systems or host-owned systems) not given priority in the lottery?

The Adjustable Block Program lottery approach was approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission when it approved the Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan on April 3, 2018. The lottery approach does not give priority to (for distributed generation systems) host-owned systems as opposed to third-party-owned systems or (for any type of system) previously installed systems as opposed to planned systems. The Plan, as approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, only had a single prioritization provision for the lottery – for community solar projects with commitments for at least 50% small subscribers.

System Engineering

After my distributed generation project has an approved contract under the Adjustable Block Program, can I move the panels to a different building?

No.  The project approval is location-specific.

Can a project be upgraded from a fixed mount panel to a tracker mounted panel after ICC contract approval?

Approved Vendors will not be permitted to make a tracker change between ICC contract approval and the final build. A change such as this would be significant and have a material effect on the project.

Do I need a revenue grade meter or can I just use my inverter reading?

Systems up to 10kW in size are able to use either a meter that is accurate to +/-5% or an inverter specified by the manufacturer to be accurate to +/‐5% that is UL-certified and includes a digital or web-based output display.

Systems over 10 kW and less than 25 kW in size registered with GATS must utilize a meter that meets ANSI C.12 standards. Meters that are refurbished (and certified by the meter supplier) are allowed.

Systems over 25 kW registered in GATS must utilize a new meter that meets ANSI C.12 standards.

All systems registered in M-RETS must utilize an ANSI C.12 certified revenue quality meter.

Note: System sizes are AC nameplate capacity. Therefore a system with a 10kW inverter, for example, is considered a 10kW system regardless of DC nameplate capacity of the system.

 

RECs

How is the REC obligation calculated for a specific project?

This topic is fully addressed in section 6.14.5 of the Approved Plan. When a project is approved for the Adjustable Block Program, a 15-year REC obligation will be calculated for that project. Approved Vendors will have the option to use either a standard capacity factor or an alternative capacity factor (based on an estimated production analysis from PV Watts or an equivalent tool) to determine the REC obligation for a project. Information on approved capacity factor calculations for use under the program can be found in the Program Guidebook, Section 4: System Eligibility, REC Quantity Calculation

How will systems be paid for RECs through the Adjustable Block Program?

For systems up to 10 kW, an upfront payment for the full value of the REC contract will be made to the Approved Vendor at the time the project is fully energized. For distributed generation systems greater than 10 kW and up to 2,000 kW and community renewable solar projects, 20% of the renewable energy credit purchase price will be paid to the Approved Vendor when the project is energized. The remaining portion shall be paid ratably over the subsequent 4-year period. Details on the payment schedule can be found in the  REC contract between the Utility and the Approved Vendor.

What are the REC prices being offered through the Adjustable Block Program?

The final REC prices can be found in section 6.4 of the Approved Plan.

REC Contract

Are price adders, such as the small subscriber adder, factored into a Designated System’s initial REC collateral calculation?

Yes.  The following discussion applies to a Designated System that is a Community Renewable Energy Generation Project. The contractual definition of Collateral Requirement before Energization is based on Proposed Price – which, in turn, is based on the Proposed Nameplate Capacity and the proposed Community Solar Subscription Mix (which may qualify the system for REC price adders under the ABP) presented at the ABP Part 1 application stage.  Within 30 Business Days after the Illinois Commerce Commission approves inclusion of a Designated System within a Product Order for a REC Contract, assuming the Designated System is not energized yet, the Approved Vendor will be required to post Performance Assurance in an amount that includes the initial Collateral Requirement for that Designated System.

 

The calculation of the Designated System’s Collateral Requirement at subsequent times may differ for the following reasons, however.  The definition of Contract Price indicates that it can change at the time of Energization of the Designated System and then up to four additional times after the first four Quarterly Periods after Energization, each time based upon changes in Community Solar Subscription Mix that may change the small subscriber price adders applicable under the ABP. The Contract Price will be permanently fixed after the fourth Community Solar Quarterly Report.  The Contract Nameplate Capacity, which is based on the share of Actual Nameplate Capacity that is subscribed, also will be evaluated at the time of Energization and after each of the four Community Solar Quarterly Reports, then permanently fixed. For a Designated System that has reached Energization, the Collateral Requirement at any given time will be based both on the Contract Price and the Contract Nameplate Capacity. The Collateral Requirement for each Designated System in the REC Contract (including any Community Renewable Energy Generation Project) would be re-evaluated at any time (but not at other times) when there is a Drawdown Amount for any Designated System(s) in the REC Contract and an ensuing required top-up of the total Performance Assurance Amount.

Can I decline to execute a REC contract or product order?

With respect to declining to execute a contract after receiving a contract award, please be aware that the Adjustable Block Program Guidebook (p. 37) provides as follows:

When the Program Administrator submits contract information to the Commission for approval, that submittal will include the Program Administrator’s recommendation for approval of the batch, with a summary of factors relevant to Plan compliance and pertinent to the Commission’s standard of review for batch approval. Once a batch is approved by the Commission, the applicable utility will execute the contract. The Approved Vendor will then be required to sign the contract within seven business days of receiving it. Approved Vendors that do not execute an ABP contract after project selection, submission to the Commission for approval, the Commission’s approval, or the utility’s contract execution may face disciplinary measures impacting their status as an Approved Vendor in the Program moving forward; any such discipline will be based on the Program Administrator and IPA’s review of the circumstances under which the contract was declined.

As a consequence, you may face discipline – including a possible suspension or termination of your Approved Vendor status under the Adjustable Block Program – for failing to execute a contract or product order after submitting a project application and receiving a contract award. Suspension or termination will not impact your rights or obligations under other executed contracts or product orders, but rather it will impact your ability to submit new project applications. Generally, the Program Administrator and the IPA will review all of the circumstances informing why a contract award was declined before the issuance of any discipline so it would be helpful to receive a detailed, comprehensive explanation for why you declined to execute any contract or product order. If circumstances genuinely outside of an Approved Vendor’s control necessitated non-execution, then discipline may have limited deterrent effect and may not be warranted, and thus your explanation may want to emphasize and explain any such circumstances outside of your control resulting in non-execution. Neither the IPA nor Program Administrator is able to provide a disciplinary determination in advance of non-execution to “pre-approve” such an action, nor can they provide a timeframe for the issuance of such determination after non-execution.

Can you please clarify the precise extent to which an Approved Vendor must serve as the entity for each payment/transaction type? By rough approximation there are three ‘entities’ here, which overlap: 1) the program Approved Vendor 2) the legal entity (such as an LLC) that is associated with the Approved Vendor 3) the payments/transactions node (i.e. the holder of the account into which payment from REC Contract will be deposited) To what degree can an Approved Vendor utilize other entities (such as another LLC controlled by the same entity that controls the Approved Vendor) to manage payments, both outgoing and incoming (application fee, collateral, REC payments from utility)? The REC Contract contains the following language: “ ‘Approved Vendor’ means the entity approved by the IPA (or its designee) under the ABP to be eligible for an award of a REC Contract under the ABP.” Must the legal entity associated with the Approved Vendor move money through its accounts?

Although the REC Contract indicates in several places that fees and collateral are payable by the Seller, the IPA is not aware of language in the Final REC Contract prohibiting a Seller from appointing a different entity to make cash payments on its behalf.  The IPA does note that the Letter of Credit forms in Exhibit E of the REC Contract indicate that the “Account Party” under the Letter of Credit must be the same as the Seller under the REC Contract.

 

Regarding receipt of REC payment funds, the REC Contract indicates in several places that payment is to be made to Seller or received by Seller. The IPA notes that Sections 13(a) and 13(c) of the Cover Sheet give the Seller the power to indicate its account details for receiving a wire transfer or ACH payment.

How will the new definition of subscriber enrollment address enrollments that are rejected by the utility (for instance, because a customer would be over the utility’s sizing threshold, or because a customer had an account finaled, utility error, enrolled on Rate RTOUPP if that rate is approved and the Illinois Commerce Commission adopts ComEd’s proposal to make Rider POGCS customers ineligible, customers on Ameren Illinois’s Flexpay program (if approved) if the utility stops service).

Section 6(e) of the Cover Sheet states that, when evaluating a community solar system’s subscription levels for a Delivery Year, a daily average will be computed for each day in the Delivery Year, “based on subscription start and end dates comprised of the day a subscription start or end request was submitted to the utility, as entered in the REC Annual Report.”  The REC Contract does not expressly address what may happen if a request to enroll in net metering is rejected by the utility where the prospective subscriber is located – in other words, whether that prospective subscriber would be contractually treated as a subscriber of the Designated System for any period of time.   The Agency notes that the REC Contract expressly adopts the definition of Community Renewable Energy Generation Project  found in the Illinois Power Agency Act, 20 ILCS 3855/1-10, which includes a requirement that such a project “credits the value of electricity generated by the facility to the subscribers of the facility.”  Thus, if the applicable utility declines to provide net metering credits to a prospective subscriber under Section 16-107.5(l) of the Public Utilities Act (potentially, although perhaps not exclusively, because it does not recognize that individual or entity to be eligible to serve as a “subscriber” at the indicated subscription size to that facility), it appears that such customer cannot be a subscriber and would not be counted as part of subscription levels for the calculations under Section 6(e) of the Cover Sheet.

Is there a timeframe for notices of material violations in Section 5(h) of the Cover Sheet?

The IPA anticipates that it could receive information about a Designated System “[being in] material non-conformance with requirements of the ABP or [being] materially non-conforming with the information previously submitted by Seller to the IPA about that Designated System” at any time following the execution of a REC Contract involving that Designated System.  Thus, the IPA would expect to potentially exercise its rights contemplated in Section 5(h) of the Cover Sheet relative to a Designated System’s material deficiency at any time following execution of the REC Contract until the end of the Designated System’s Delivery Term.  Following receipt and confirmation of information about a Designated System’s material deficiency, the IPA would strive to notify the Seller/Approved Vendor at the earliest practicable time, triggering the 20-Business-Day cure period allowed in Section 5(h) of the Cover Sheet.

On page 18 of the REC Contract, Section 1.22.8, and page 19, Section 1.22.9, the contract defines Designated System Contract Maximum REC Quantity and Designated System Expected Maximum REC Quantity as follows: “Designated System Contract Maximum REC Quantity” means, with respect to a Designated System, the number of RECs expected to be Delivered under this Agreement as of the date of Energization, which may be amended or adjusted subsequently thereto, and shall be equal to the multiplicative product of (a) Contract Nameplate Capacity (in MW), (b) Capacity Factor, (c) 8,760 hours and (d) 15 years, which result shall be rounded down to the nearest whole REC.” And ““Designated System Expected Maximum REC Quantity” means, with respect to a Designated System, the number of RECs expected to be Delivered under this Agreement as of the Trade Date and shall be equal to the multiplicative product of (a) Proposed Nameplate Capacity (in MW), (b) Capacity Factor, (c) 8,760 hours and (d) 15 years, which result shall be rounded down to the nearest whole REC.” Is the intention to make this an AC calculation or can developers maintain a DC calculation for capacity factor?

“Nameplate Capacity” is defined in the REC Contract, mirroring the definition in the Illinois Power Agency Act,  as based on the nameplate capacity of the system’s inverter in kilowatts AC.  Proposed Nameplate Capacity and Contract Nameplate Capacity are defined in the REC Contract as derivative of Nameplate Capacity.  Although the contractual definition of Capacity Factor does not indicate whether it is based on DC or AC concepts, the contractual calculations referenced in the question above make clear that Capacity Factor must be with reference to Nameplate Capacity in AC.

 

Separate from the REC Contract, the ABP Program Guidebook and the ABP project application provide an option for an Approved Vendor to indicate a custom capacity factor (which, if approved by the ABP Program Administrator, will ultimately become the contractual Capacity Factor) indirectly, by entering estimated first-year production in kilowatt-hours.  This estimate of first-year production can incorporate DC-based calculations.  This estimate must be made using a custom software tool designed to calculate such capacity factors or calculated by a professional engineer; the Agency’s Program Administrator will reserve the right to audit any proprietary third-party software tool.