Sun-Times Letter to the Editor: “Illinois homeowners should take a shine to rooftop solar panels. It will help the climate and lower energy costs”

Rooftop solar panels will help Illinoisans save money and ease the transition of our state to a clean energy economy, state Rep. Daniel Didech writes.

We’re in the first week of 2024, and I’m resolved to encourage my fellow Illinois homeowners — landlords, too — to commit to installing rooftop solar panels this year, wherever possible, and taking advantage of the available incentives to do so.

According to the Energy Information Administration’s 2020 data, only 5% of U.S. homes enjoy the benefits of solar panels, compared with 20% in Germany and 30% in Australia. Researchers believe one major reason fewer Americans opt out of installing solar panels is because comparatively, our country has a historically low cost of electricity.

But as our country grapples with aging energy transmission lines, climate risks associated with ongoing fossil fuel reliance and the mounting costs associated with addressing these, the cost of electricity-as-usual is shifting. Installing rooftop solar panels is a major way to keep costs down, and Illinois has become much more friendly toward doing so.

When Illinois passed the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act in 2021, it made it so much easier for homeowners statewide to install rooftop solar. State incentives like Illinois Solar for All and Solar Renewable Energy Credits, federal incentives like a 30% tax credit to apply toward installation and available financing options make it financially feasible for virtually all homeowners to install rooftop solar panels.

I recently installed solar panels on my Buffalo Grove home for a few reasons:

• It’s doing my part to help transition our state to a clean energy economy in the time-sensitive fight against climate change.

• We’re saving money. It’s going to lower my electric bill every single month. In my case, I found that financing options for installing solar and the promised savings on my electric bill was cheaper than maintaining the status quo.

Those ready to take the next step should compare available solar options and check out reverse solar auctions for the best deal. Most solar companies provide a free off-site quote, calculated by reviewing your energy usage and your property’s solar exposure. If you use less energy, you’ll need fewer solar panels to account for your electric load. Also, consider contacting your utility company to see what energy efficiency programs they offer to complement the benefits associated with installing rooftop solar.

Science demonstrates that we need a 100% clean energy economy, and fast. In Illinois, we’ve reached a point where the sustainable solution has become the most cost-effective solution. This year, I encourage all Illinois homeowners to make the switch and help combat climate change while saving their hard-earned money.

State Rep. Daniel Didech, D-Buffalo Grove

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