Illinois Grants More than $1.5 Million for Solar Thermal Development

November 05, 2007

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced in late October that the state is awarding grants totaling more than $1.5 million to businesses and other utility customers to install solar thermal energy systems. The Solar Thermal Grant Program, administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), covers up to 30 percent of the cost for installation of a solar thermal energy system.

"As energy bills continue to climb, we are constantly looking at ways to increase our use of alternative energy sources that will save families and local businesses money. Relying more on homegrown energy sources like solar energy will not only make our air cleaner to breathe, but it will also put more people to work. The time has come to make serious investments in alternative energy sources," Blagojevich said.

The Solar Thermal Grant Program focuses on systems that produce heat energy for large-scale applications with significant heat loads, such as car washes, commercial laundries, high-density housing developments, and public swimming pools.

A sampling of grant recipients includes:

  • Solar Service, Incorporated, in Niles, which received solar thermal grants totaling $361,464. With those funds, the company is installing solar thermal hot water systems at nine locations throughout the Chicago area, including Beecher Elementary School, Wright College, and Conant High School.
  • Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, which was awarded a grant of $264,245. The university will install two solar thermal hot water systems to heat campus swimming pools at Anderson Hall and Gabel Hall. The project will save natural gas, provide educational benefits, and raise community awareness of renewable energy technologies.
  • Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission, which provides beds and rehabilitation programs for 950 homeless people every night. The mission used a grant of $132,198 to install a solar thermal hot water system at a new facility that features an energy efficient design, a green roof, greenhouses, and solar energy. Pacific Garden is believed to be the nation's first green rescue mission.

DCEO also administers the Illinois Solar Energy Rebate Program in which homeowners, small businesses, and other electric and gas utility customers in Illinois are eligible for awards of up to 30 percent of the cost of solar energy system installations, with a maximum rebate grant of $10,000 per customer.

For more information, including a full list of grant recipients, see the DCEO October 25 press release.

To read more about renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Illinois, see: