Securing a US Department of Energy grant sets the City of Chicago on a course to transform the region into a leading solar market
A solar-development project team led by the City of Chicago, applied for and was awarded a $750,000 grant from the US Department of Energy as part of the SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge. West Monroe Partners is part of that team, along with the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Together, our organizations are working to transform Chicago into a national leader in residential and commercial rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) development.

Initiatives that break down barriers. 
The project team is using the SunShot grant and additional funds to implement several innovative and aggressive projects to advance the City of Chicago’s solar commitment and dramatically reduce the barriers and costs associated with installing solar.

Permitting—These tasks focus on reducing the time and cost associated with applying for solar permits.

Interconnection and net metering—These tasks focus on identifying bottlenecks and constraints in the interconnection process and reducing time, cost and other barriers to scalable growth. Net metering tasks focus on assessing the implications of the changes made to Illinois’ net metering statute in the Illinois General Assembly’s Fall 2011 Veto Session.

Business requirements—Financing initiatives focus on providing lower-cost, widely accessible options that improve the financial viability of solar in Chicago.

Planning and zoning—These tasks focus on developing solutions that can be implemented immediately to remove barriers for developing a mature solar market.

Educational content and collaboration— These tasks focus on developing content to help stakeholders understand the current administrative processes for rooftop solar and the current requirements for completing the process. Additionally, the team is bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate and implement best practices.

The key ingredients for initiating solar transformation.
For each element of the project, the team utilized an approach comprised of these elements:

  • Complete current-state review
  • Review best practices
  • Understand existing constraints
  • Obtain stakeholder input/validation
  • Build a transformation road map
  • Gain leadership support

The objectives of the project:

  • Transform the Chicago region into one of the nation's leading solar markets
  • Reduce the time and costs of reviewing and approving solar applications
  • Maintain the integrity and safety of rooftop solar installations

"This work builds on our collaboration with the City of Chicago to drive economic value from its Climate Action Plan, and it enables us to combine strengths in the energy and utilities arena with our passion for sustainability in an initiative that will make a tangible difference." Dean Fischer, CEO, West Monroe Partners


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