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How To Get Free Solar Panels Installed in Illinois

Updated February 2, 2024

If you are a homeowner in Illinois, there is a good chance that you qualify for a free solar panel installation for your home or business! This guide will help you find out if you qualify and how to get started with solar.

How To Get Free Solar Panels in Illinois

Step 1: Review Your Options

There are several programs that offer free solar panels and installations to residents of Illinois. Your options depend on a number of factors such as where you live, the type of energy system you need, and your income status. Based on these factors, you may also qualify for even more financial benefits like rebates and tax credits. The following are some of the most popular and beneficial programs currently available in Illinois….

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Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

The most common path to "free" solar is a Power Purchase Agreement directly between you and a state-licensed solar energy company. Under a "PPA", the solar company absorbs the full cost of the solar panel equipment and installation for you.

The solar company is technically the owner of the equipment, however, they are responsible for providing you with electricity produced from your home for a guaranteed fixed rate (unlike the unpredictable rising costs of traditional utilities). They are also responsible for any continued maintenance or repairs the solar system may require.

This can be a great option if you don’t want to buy or simply can’t afford buying the solar panels outright. Even though the homeowner isn’t purchasing the actual solar system, they still enjoy the benefits of solar energy and save money on their electricity bills.

Illinois State Solar Programs

While Illinois does not have a state sponsored rebate program, they do offer some of the better and more popular solar incentives in America.

Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) is a program to help income-eligible homeowners, renters, nonprofits, and public facilities install solar panels with zero upfront costs. Eligible participants partner with vetted ILSFA Approved Vendors to receive solar installations and pay a reduced fee for the energy produced over time.

For businesses and commercial projects, Commonwealth Edison (the largest electric company in Illinois) offers the ComEd Distributed Generation (Solar) Rebate for nonresidential systems that pays up to $300 per kilowatt of solar capacity up to 2,000 kW. Schools and churches may also qualify for this rebate program.

Additionally, local governments and utility companies provide generous solar incentives and programs, each with unique eligibility requirements. When combined, the plethora of incentives in Illinois significantly offset the cost of going solar and can even provide a financial return.

Considering how specific each program is to the details of your home, we strongly suggest you speak with a local solar expert to review all of your best options.

Additional Financial Benefits

In addition to these programs, there are many financial benefits for homeowners in Illinois who switch to solar energy. Some of the biggest incentives and benefits are:

Federal Tax Credit: Formerly known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), this program was extended in 2022 and renamed the Residential Clean Energy Credit. Homeowners who install solar can claim a massive federal tax credit worth 30% of the gross system cost (including panels, related equipment, wiring, installation, permits, and fees). That means that if the gross system cost is $20,000, your federal tax credit would be a whopping $6,000!

Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs): SRECs are financial credits that you receive automatically for the excess energy your solar system produces and distributes back to the grid. These credits come in the form of deductions from your bills or can even be sold for monetary payment based on market value. This is a great way to make some passive income from your solar panels and increase your solar savings!

Property Tax Exemption: Homeowners with solar can receive a property tax exemption for the value of their solar system. This allows homeowners to increase their property values with solar, without increasing their taxes.

Find out if you qualify for solar savings programs!

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Step 2: Find Out if Your Home Qualifies

Depending on where you live, your home may qualify for several different solar savings or free install programs, each with unique advantages. We strongly recommended you speak with a local solar expert regarding your options prior to installation. If you begin an installation without applying for the right programs, you may lose out on massive savings!

Step 3: Get a State-Licensed Installation

Working with a state-licensed installer is the best way to ensure your solar system is installed safely, securely, and most importantly, legally. Setting up a cutting-edge solar system and connecting it with your utility company’s grid is no simple DIY project. Be sure only to evaluate options provided from licensed and insured solar panel installers.

Contact our local Illinois solar experts and we’ll walk you through the whole process, from qualification to installation!

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Author & Solar Energy Expert

Stephen Kelly, luminary in the solar industry for over 10 years, stands as a respected author and frequent speaker at clean energy conferences throughout the United States. His commitment to America on clean energy positions him as a trusted authority driving positive change.

Find out if you qualify for solar savings programs!

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