Category: Approved Vendor

Designee Reminders

Approved Vendor and Designee Communication Expectations

The Program Administrator has encountered recent instances of Approved Vendors relying on Program announcements to keep their Designees informed of ABP requirements and updates. While such announcements are for the benefit of all stakeholders, including both Approved Vendors and their Designees, it is the Approved Vendor’s responsibility to ensure that their Designees are trained and fully informed of all ABP requirements, new releases of Program documents, and any other Program updates.

The Program Administrator may request copies of emails or trainings that Approved Vendors have provided to their Designees. Approved Vendors thus should be sure to maintain records of such communications or trainings to document the efforts taken to ensure that Designees are well informed and aware of all Program updates.

Designee Registration

Approved Vendors should also ensure that their Designees are registered with the Program in all the relevant roles they perform for an Approved Vendor. More information on the various Designee roles and how to register as a Designee with the Program can be found here. Proper Designee registration is particularly important for Designees of Approved Vendors with Community Solar projects. The Designee roles Disclosure Form Designee and Community Solar Subscriber Agent Designee allow Designees to generate Disclosure Forms and manage the subscribers of a community solar project on behalf of an Approved Vendor. Designees that are not properly registered under these roles will not be able to perform these functions in the ABP Portal.

Please reach out to the Program Administrator at admin@illinoisabp.com or (877) 783-1820 with any questions regarding Designee registration or communication expectations for Approved Vendors.

Public Designee Database Now Available on ABP Websites

The Revised Long-Term Plan describes a requirement for Approved Vendor Designees (i.e., third-party entities working with Approved Vendors that have direct interaction with end-use customers) to register and be listed on the ABP and Illinois Shines websites along with the Approved Vendors with which they’re working. The listing of Designees allows potential customers to be able to verify that a company that reaches out to them is actually a Program participant registered with the Program (and likewise will be able to review if they are listed in the Program’s consumer complaint database or the disciplinary actions report).

The Program Administrator has published a searchable Designee database available on both the ABP website (view the database here) and the Illinois Shines website (view the database here). All registered Designees have been added to this publicly facing Designee database, and the database will be updated continually to reflect new Designees. Approved Vendors and Designees can approve and remove Designees within their portal as needed, and these changes will be reflected in the Designee database.

If you have any questions about becoming a registered Designee or the Designee database, please email the Program Administrator at admin@illinoisabp.com or call 877-783-1820.

Release of New Batching Functionality in the ABP Portal

The Program Administrator has created a new dashboard to allow Approved Vendors to actively manage the batching of their project applications prior to batches being submitted to the ICC for approval. This dashboard was created to fully implement the batching process outlined in a previous announcement and replaces the interim batching process communicated to Approved Vendors on April 24, 2020 and that has been in use since that date.

Please see a detailed explanation of the new batching functionality and process changes as well as a training document that walks through the changes.

If you have any questions regarding this new portal functionality please reach out to the Program Administrator at admin@illinoisabp.com or at 877-783-1820.

ABP Stakeholder Webinar Documents Posted & Designee Registration Reminder

The ABP Stakeholder webinar recording and slide deck from December 9, 2020 have been posted here under the links for “Recording for Adjustable Block Program Informational Webinar (December 2020)” and “Slide Deck for Adjustable Block Program Informational Webinar (December 2020)”.

As discussed during the webinar, the deadline for existing Designees of an Approved Vendor to register is Thursday, December 10, 2020 to remain in compliance with Program requirements. Any new Designees must register with the Program prior to working with an Approved Vendor.

ABP Stakeholder Webinar – Wednesday, December 9, 2020

As a reminder, the Program Administrator and IPA will be holding an informational webinar for Approved Vendors, Designees, and other interested stakeholders tomorrow, Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 12:00 PM Central. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend this webinar to learn more about Program requirements and what is next for the Program.

Attendees may register for the webinar via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYkc-6tpzwsH9w24VxGrFvVsnhSRKoYqHa6. If you are not able to attend this webinar, it will be recorded and posted to the ABP website for easy access and review.

If you have any questions that you would like the Program Administrator and IPA to address during the webinar, please email them no later than today, Tuesday, December 8, 2020 to admin@illinoisabp.com with the subject line “12/9 Webinar Question”.

Group A Small DG Block 3 closed

On December 3, 2020 an application was submitted that exceeded the available capacity in Group A Small DG Block 3. This application and all other applications for this Group/category submitted in a paid batch on or prior to 11:59 PM Central Prevailing Time on that date were allocated to Block 3 up to the cap of 2 MW of additional Block 3 capacity. The additional capacity allocated to Block 3 is 0.382 MW.

It was previously announced on November 26, 2020 when Group A Small DG Block 2 closed that the Program Administrator would make a subsequent announcement of the opening capacity of Group A Small DG Block 3 after 10 business days had passed to give Approved Vendors sufficient time to pay the application fee for submitted batches. As Block 3 has closed prior to 10 business days passing, there will be no announcement of Block 3’s opening capacity. All subsequently submitted applications for Group A Small DG will be placed on a waitlist. Please refer to the announcement of the Block closing protocol on illinoisabp.com for more details on waitlist management.

At this time there is not a schedule for the opening of a future block of capacity for Group A Small DG. As outlined extensively in Chapter 3 of the IPA’s Revised Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, obtaining RPS funding necessary for opening additional blocks in 2021 would require passing new legislation.

ABP Stakeholder Webinar – Wednesday, December 9, 2020

As a reminder, the Program Administrator and IPA will be holding an informational webinar for Approved Vendors, Designees, and other interested stakeholders on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 12:00 PM Central. Stakeholders are encouraged to attend this webinar to learn more about Program requirements and what is next for the Program.

Attendees may register for the webinar via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYkc-6tpzwsH9w24VxGrFvVsnhSRKoYqHa6. If you are not able to attend this webinar, it will be recorded and posted to the ABP website for easy access and review.

If you have any questions that you would like the Program Administrator and IPA to address during the webinar, please email them no later than Tuesday, December 8, 2020 to admin@illinoisabp.com with the subject line “12/9 Webinar Question”.

Adjustable Block Program Document Release Announcement

The Illinois Power Agency is pleased to announce to announce the finalization and release of revised versions of the following Adjustable Block Program documents:

The Agency also announces details for a revised edition of the following Adjustable Block Program document, with a final, usable version still pending:

These items were each the subject of prior stakeholder feedback processes, and the IPA thanks parties for the useful feedback offered through those comment periods, and for their patience as the Agency and Program Administrator finalized these documents.  Specific highlighted changes made to each of these documents are outlined below (please note that these are not a summary of all changes made to these program documents).

PROGRAM GUIDEBOOK

As the revised Program Guidebook is the first revised edition of the Guidebook since May 2019, it contains a collection of changes and updates reflecting program administration changes since the Program’s early days, including the deletion of now-stale content.  Other changes are intended to reflect the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Order in Docket No. 19-0995 approving the IPA’s Revised Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, such as information on Designee registration.

Additional changes include a change in the threshold permissible DC:AC ratio for participating projects; that ratio is now 1.55, up from 1.5, to allow for more flexibility in system design.  Given the less permanent, more transactive nature of community solar subscription offers in the Illinois market, the Guidebook also now provides for guidance for how community solar providers will be able to generate and upload Community Solar Disclosure Forms outside of the Adjustable Block Program Portal (an item requested by many commenters during the most recent comment process).

A redline comparison of the original and revised Program Guidebooks is available on the Adjustable Block Program website.

COMMUNITY SOLAR MARKETING GUIDELINES

Similar to the recently-released revised Distributed Generation Marketing Guidelines, the revised Community Solar Marketing Guidelines have been reorganized into a more user-friendly, outline-driven structure.  Among the revisions include adjustments to the requirement that a standalone brochure be presented to customers at first contact; that brochure will be attached to the revised Community Solar Disclosure Form, with this now combined document required to be presented prior to subscription contract execution.

As with the Distributed Generation Marketing Guidelines, the Program is now making a logo available to Approved Vendors and Designees to signify that the entity is a firm registered with the program.  The process for obtaining approval for endorsements from governmental bodies, including municipal governments, has also been streamlined, with Program Administrator approval over each individual endorsement no longer required if predicate requirements are met.

As discussed further below, community solar providers will now have the flexibility to identify specific Approved Vendors and projects downstream (i.e., after disclosure form execution), and the revised guidelines provide requirements applicable to what content must be communicated to subscribers and by when should that option be utilized.

A redline comparison of the original and revised Community Solar Marketing Guidelines is available on the program website.

COMMUNITY SOLAR INFORMATIONAL BROCHURE

The Community Solar Informational Brochure has been updated with minor clarifying edits.  While this brochure will be integrated into the revised Community Solar Disclosure Form, until that revised disclosure form is finalized, community solar providers should begin to use this updated brochure instead of the original brochure released in January of 2019.  Furthermore, as described above, the brochure no longer needs to be presented at first customer contact, but can instead be presented in conjunction with the Community Solar Disclosure Form.

COMMUNITY SOLAR DISCLOSURE FORM

Consistent with feedback received in stakeholder comments, the revised Community Solar Disclosure Form has been shortened and streamlined.  As referenced above, the Community Solar Informational Brochure will now be included as an attachment to the disclosure form, and duplicative content already contained within the brochure has been deleted from the body of the disclosure form.  The revised form will also allow for flexibility in the identification of specific approved vendors and specific community solar projects: as before, a community solar provider may still input this information into the form, but now may alternatively elect a “TBD” input for those fields.

The net cash flow estimate section has been revised considerably.  In light of feedback regarding the inaccuracy of prior rendered savings estimates, this section has been changed to a narrative description outlining how customers can estimate the value of a community solar subscription through comparing subscription costs to supply rates (and thus to net metering credit rates).  This narrative description also now includes an example specific to a percentage-based savings subscription rate—which is how the IPA understands many offers to be structured in the community solar subscription market.

The Program Administrator is in the process of programing the changes required to allow for generation of the revised disclosure form.  A draft of the disclosure form text is being released contemporaneously with this announcement, in order to allow program participants to understand the types of changes that will be seen on the form and beginning planning for future implementation.  Within two weeks, the Program Administrator will release a template of the revised disclosure form. Subsequently, the Program Administrator will release additional programing information to allow community solar providers to plan for implementing programing changes related to the API and CSV upload options to accommodate the revised form.  This programming information release will include the API specifications for the option to generate (with Program Administrator pre-approval) disclosure forms outside of the ABP portal.  The Program Administrator expects that these changes will be in place by the end of the year for full implementation starting in 2021.

Register now for ABP Webinar – December 9, 2020

The Program Administrator will be holding an informational webinar for ABP Approved Vendors, Designees, and other interested stakeholders on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 12:00 PM Central. The Program Administrator encourages stakeholders to attend this webinar to learn more about Program requirements and what is next for the Program.

Topics to be discussed on the webinar include:

  • Closing of Small DG blocks and maintenance of waitlists for DG systems
  • Designee registration requirements
  • Recent revisions to the Distributed Generation and Community Solar Marketing Guidelines and the Program Guidebook
  • Revised Community Solar Disclosure Form
  • Stakeholder feedback requests on community solar project diversity considerations and updating REC prices
  • Community solar waitlist publishing process
  • What’s next for the Program (updates on funding and future blocks, process for the development of the next Revised Long-Term Plan)

Attendees may register for the webinar via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYkc-6tpzwsH9w24VxGrFvVsnhSRKoYqHa6. If you are not able to attend this webinar, it will be recorded and posted to the ABP website for easy access and review.

ABP Designee Registration Requirement and Functionality – Available on Monday October 26

Section 6.9.1 of the Revised Long-Term Plan published by the IPA on April 20, 2020 describes a new requirement for Approved Vendor Designees (i.e., third-party entities working with Approved Vendors that have direct interaction with end-use customers)  to register and be listed on the ABP and Illinois Shines websites along with the Approved Vendors with which they’re working. The purpose of this new requirement is to increase transparency for the Program. Potential customers will be able to verify that a company that reaches out to them is actually a Program participant registered with the Program (and likewise will be able to review if they are listed in the Program’s consumer complaint database or the disciplinary actions report). All Designees will be added to the Program’s publicly facing Designee database once registered. This database will be housed on both the ABP and Illinois Shines websites. The Program Administrator plans to release the functionality in the ABP portal that facilitates compliance with this requirement on Monday, October 26, 2020.

New Designees must register prior to working with any Approved Vendor. Existing designees of an Approved Vendor must register by Thursday, December 10, 2020 (which is 45 calendar days from the October 26, 2020 release of the Designee Registration functionality) to remain in compliance with Program requirements.

Once this functionality becomes available, all third-party entities that have direct interaction with end-use customers of the ABP and that operate within the Illinois Adjustable Block Program need to register as Designees on the Program website. Once registered, these entities can indicate in the portal one or more of the following Designee roles:

  • Disclosure Form Designee – An entity that is permitted to generate Disclosure Forms on behalf of an Approved Vendor.
  • Community Solar Subscriber Agent Designee – An entity that is permitted to manage the community solar subscription information for an Approved Vendor’s community solar projects.
  • Marketing or Sales Designee – An entity that is designated to act as a marketing agent and/or customer acquisition agent on behalf of an Approved Vendor or Designee. This includes, among others, entities that engage in solicitations through any channel (in-person, telephone, etc.), as well as entities that perform online lead generation services.
  • Installer Designee – An entity that has been designated to install systems on behalf of an Approved Vendor or Designee.

The IPA and Program Administrator reserve the right to add or remove roles as needed over time. Approved Vendors and Designees can add and remove Designees within their portal as needed. All registered Designees are only authorized to act in that designated role with Approved Vendors or Designees that have accepted it as a Designee and have not revoked that acceptance.

Failure by a Designee to comply with applicable Program requirements could subject the Designee to suspension or termination from registration. If the Designee ignores a suspension or termination decision made by the Program Administrator or the IPA and continues its market activity nonetheless, any Approved Vendor or Designee that works with the Designee during that period may be subject to discipline. Likewise, Approved Vendors and Designees found to be working with entities that fail to register as Designees with the Program may be subject to discipline.

Approved Vendors are responsible for ensuring that both their Designees and Designees of their Designees register with the Program. Approved Vendors who fail to do so may be subject to disciplinary action. For example, if an Approved Vendor has an installer as a Designee, and that installer hires a lead generation firm to assist with marketing, the Approved Vendor is responsible for ensuring that the lead generation firm (in addition to the installer) registers with the Program. One benefit to Approved Vendors through this system is that they will know which downstream firms are working with their direct Designees and may be able to better monitor those firms’ behavior, as the Approved Vendor ultimately is responsible that each of the entities under its umbrella complies with Program requirements.

A webinar to introduce the Designee registration functionality and provide training on how to use it has been scheduled for today October 23, 2020  at 1 PM Central Prevailing Time to ensure that all entities are prepared to utilize the functionality before it goes live. Approved Vendors and Designees may register for the webinar via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYofu2oqjkvGtHYwGVr0wQku6H-4O1QsydL. If you are not able to attend this training webinar, it will be recorded and posted to the ABP website for easy access and review.

Please reach out to the Program Administrator at admin@illinoisabp.com or (877) 783-1820 with any questions.