Legislation to reimburse Ill. power users

By Ebonique Wool

Illinois residents who choose renewable energy sources will now be reimbursed for excess energy produced.

In recent legislation signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, effective Aug. 24, a statewide net metering program was established for Illinois. Titled Public Act 095-0420, this law provides a service for residents who have means of producing energy through ways such as solar panels or wind. By April 1, 2008 all electric companies in Illinois will be required to offer a net metering program for customers who have renewable energy generators.

Electric companies will be required to monitor the amount of energy created and give credit for any energy produced over the amount used on the customer’s next bill.

“Before this law went into effect people were only able to use the energy they created. Now they will be reimbursed,” said Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Jakobsson said she supported the legislation because of the benefits it has for people and her concern about the environment.

“Among my priorities has been the environment and renewable sources. When I read about solar panels and net metering, I wanted to work on legislation such as this,” Jakobsson said.

Among the goals of the new law was to encourage home owners to invest in renewable energy resources. Though some would prefer not to spend the money to have new generators installed, they still support the law.

“It’s great for people who can afford to have that equipment,” said Stephen Martin, sophomore in ACES.

Though he does not yet own a home, he said the net metering program will be helpful in the future for those who will be buying newly made homes.

“There are easier things to do than installing solar panels,” said Debbie McDaniel, resident of Palatine, Ill., and mother of two students at the University. “I think if I was building a house I would incorporate that. I try to do simple things like turning down the air conditioning at night. Anything we can do to reduce energy consumption would be positive.”

Jakobsson said she knows renewable energy generators are not common now but hopes that this new legislation will encourage people to invest in them.

“At this point there aren’t a whole lot of people who have renewable energy in their homes, but those who have it will really enjoy (the net metering program),” Jakobsson said. “I think it will be an incentive for people to put solar panels in their homes or install some renewable energy source. People are getting the message we need to save.”