Plugging Into Solar Power

Permitting Solar Power in Warrenville

The City of Warrenville is committed to encouraging residents and businesses to reduce consumable energy and protect our planet. The City Council has directed Community Development Department staff to allocate its time and direct its efforts in a manner whereby it prioritizes the review and processing of those building permits and development applications that are most likely to result in the construction of solar installations in the City of Warrenville.

Small rooftop solar energy system permits are issued within three days* after the following required permit application materials are submitted to the Community Development Department. Systems not mounted on a roof may take additional time due to extra reviews.

Documents required: A completed Solar Permit application.

Electrical Contractor Registration application (not required for currently registered electricians).Professionally drawn site plan designating panel location and dimensions.

Structural calculations signed and sealed by a licensed structural engineer certifying the building wall or roof is structurally sound and able to bear the weight of the photovoltaic panels.

Provider/installer’s photovoltaic system drawings and product documentation (see Photovoltaic Installation Plan Review Checklist below for example).

Construction plans in compliance with the 2015 International Solar Energy Provisions Code.

*Other solar power systems may take longer due to zoning and engineering reviews. 

Permit Fee: $79.25 for the residential, standard photovoltaic system. The total fee is payable upon permit issuance. Additional fees may be required for large-scale designs.

Required Inspections: Two inspections are typically required; Rough Electric - before roof panels are installed and, Final Electric - when the installation is complete. To schedule inspections, call 630-393-9050 one day before the inspection requested. The contractor must be present.

For detailed information, please refer to the City of Warrenville Photovoltaic Installation Plan Review Checklist (PDF).

Illinois Solar Rights

Illinois law prohibits homeowners’ associations, common interest community associations, and condominium unit owners’ associations from preventing homeowners from using or installing solar energy systems. These associations may not deny homeowners permission to install solar energy systems, but they may specify the location of the solar energy system, as long as such specifications do not "impair the effective operation" of the system. In July 2011, the legislature enacted a bill (Public Act 97-0105) which added a provision for wind energy. A homeowner’s association or similar entity may restrict wind energy devices altogether.

The law stipulates that associations must adopt an energy policy statement specifying details such as location, design, and architectural requirements of the solar energy systems within 120 days of receiving a request for a policy statement or receiving an application from a homeowner. The statement must also include a statement of whether or not wind energy collections are allowed, and, if so, the architectural requirements. If the association adopts an energy policy in which approval is required for the solar energy systems, upon receiving a request from the homeowner, the association has 90 days to approve or deny it. This policy applies to homes that are 30 feet or less in height.

The complete law can be viewed at the Ilga website.

Solar Power Resources

Project Sunroof. It provides an estimated rooftop solar potential for Warrenville roofs.
U.S. Department of Energy State and Local Energy Data. Provides comprehensive energy use and activity data to help plan and implement clean energy projects.
DSIRE Database for State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. It provides valuable information and incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Homeowners Solar Rights Act. Know your rights, even if you are in a homeowner association.ComEd Solar Power Interconnection Information. Guide for interconnecting your solar power with ComEd supply.
Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar A resource guide with additional links from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) Website with a focus on consumer protection for Illinois residents.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners® Guide for locating certified installers.

Solarize Chicagoland   www.growsolar.org/chicagoland/

What advantages are there of participating in the Group Solarize Chicagoland Program?
Offered by the Citizens Utility Board and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, home and business owners throughout Cook, Will, DuPage, and Kane counties may participate in this program to help pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar more affordable. The program builds on previous years of successful programs that helped over 125 local property owners go solar.

What incentives and rebates are available?
Federal Tax Credit: In 2020, the federal solar tax credit is 26% of the price of the panels and installation if installed in 2020.  This credit declines every year.  2021 credit will be 22% and in 2022 it will be 0%.
Rebate:  Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) rebate from ComEd (typically about 35% of the cost).  Currently, you would get a $70.05/watt rebate.  The SRECs are calculated based on how much energy your solar energy system will be generating over the next 15 years. You would be receiving a check within the first year for the full 15 years’ worth of SRECs  More information: https://news.energysage.com/illinois-srec-program-changes/.
For example:
MWh (megawatt hours) Production * 15 (yrs) * $70.05 (value of SRECs) * .9 (reflects 7% panel degradation per yr) * .85 (reflects SREC management fee paid to installer and Com Ed)
This program lifecycle depends on how many users are requesting credits.  The Solarize Chicagoland team state that these credits could be exhausted at the end of this year.

How much does it cost?
The current Base Price is $2.63/watt. There are group buy rebates the more households join the system.  So, for 20 panels, the cost is 20 panels x 310 watt per panel x 2.63 = $16,306.  In other words, $815.30 a panel.

What are the financing options?
The most common options are 1) buying the system or 2) leasing the system (the solar company owns panels and they receive the incentives/credits) 3) Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) – Similar to lease but you pay for net energy used. 

What’s the payback period?
This depends on your electrical usage and if you have to re-roof in the lifetime of the panels but typically 6-10 years.

Once you sign a contract, how long does it take for installation?
In 2019, it took approximately a little over 3 months from the time of contract signing to installation.  A ‘Permission to Operate” approval from ComEd took another month after installation.

How much time does installation take?
Typically 1-2 days depending on the number of panels.

Where are the most efficient places to put panels?
Typically South. But you can install panels on East and West facing roofs. They will be less efficient.

What is the efficiency of the panels during the winter?
The peak production season is in the summer in the Midwest. However, the solar energy system/solar panels will still produce a fair amount of energy in the winter months. Normal winter storms will not impede energy production due to the fact that the panels do give off a little bit of heat which prevents ice and snow accumulating on the panels. In extreme winter storms, the panels may be covered in snow (and energy production will be impeded) for a day or so, but the heat that the panels give off and the angle of the panels will shed the snow rather quickly.

What is the warranty?
Solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, the inverter is warrantied for 12 years (but you can extend it to 25 years for an additional cost), and the installer will give you a workmanship warranty (various, but usually around 10 years). 

What if you have to re-roof?
Installer design systems and estimate energy production for that system it is presented as a 30-year system. The most challenging part of installing a solar energy system is the electrical connections (connecting the solar panels to the inverter and connecting the inverter to your meter/electric panel. If the system needs to be removed to replace/repair the roof it is only the solar panels that need to be temporarily removed. This would be a labor charge only for a day or two at the most. 

How far from the gutters would the panels have to be to prevent water from running off past the gutters?
3” to 18” depending on the pitch of the roof and height of solar array. 

What happens when the power goes off?
The system shuts down.  If you have a whole house generator, the generator would then turn on and power your home like normal.

How is the electrical conduit run?
The conduit is connected between the different sections of panels on the roof and then runs down the siding of the house to the inverter which is on the outside of your electrical panel.  If you want an internal conduit, inform the estimator so it is included in the price. 

How does Net Metering work?
Net metering measures the electricity that your system produces and credits you for it on your electrical bill if you produce more than you consume. These credits grow every month that you are net positive and the credits are used when you are net negative. The credits zero out in April.  You cannot sell credits back to ComEd.  That is why it is important to design a system that meets your needs.

More information can be found at www.energy.gov/eere/solar/homeowner-s-guide-going-solar