Co-Founder and CEO Steph Speirs created Solstice to tackle a significant problem – 80% of Americans didn’t have access to renewable energy, and the communities affected by pollution the most were still being left out of community solar. Everyone deserves to breathe clean air. Unfortunately, low- to moderate-income communities and people of color suffer the most from unclean air, water, and other environmental obstacles to living a healthy, happy, and thriving life. These historically disadvantaged communities must be a part of an equitable renewable energy transition. The Illinois Solar for All (ILSFA) community solar program is designed to bring the benefits of renewable energy to residents of these communities in Illinois. Next, we’ll explain how it works and how you might stand to benefit.
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ILSFA for Income-Qualified Residents
ILSFA is a state program that brings the benefits of solar energy to income-eligible households, nonprofit organizations, and public facilities. This program is for income-qualified households and requires income verification to enroll.
You’re probably wondering how this state program works and how community solar brings savings to your electric bill. When you enroll in community solar with Solstice, we allocate a portion of a shared solar farm in your area that will produce renewable energy on your behalf. The electricity generated from your assigned panels is sent to your utility company and is reflected on your normal utility bill along with your savings. Since the credits and savings will be applied directly to your electric bill, you will never receive a separate bill from Solstice.
ILSFA is a program to fund more renewable energy projects and direct the benefits to income-qualified Illinois residents. Participants can sign up online and receive up to 50% savings on the supply portion of their electric bills by participating in the program through credits applied to their bills. Solstice is not affiliated with a utility; subscribers will still be a utility customer and still be responsible for paying their electric bills.
Q&A with Andie Aiken
Product Marketing Manager Andie Aiken is our resident expert on ILSFA and Solstice’s involvement with the program. We’ve put together the program’s most frequently asked questions to educate potential subscribers interested in enrolling. Here’s everything you need to know about ILSFA, from qualification to enrollment.
Question: Who can participate in the ILSFA program?
Answer: This program is specifically for income-eligible residents. To qualify, the household must verify as 80% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI). The AMI varies by household size and geography. Prospective enrollees can check if their household meets the AMI qualifications using this document provided by the ILSFA program.
Q: How does the income verification process work?
A: All subscribers must verify their household income to receive bill credits using a three-step verification process. First, the prospective subscriber reports on their income. Then, Solstice collects this information that verifies their income. Finally, an ILSFA administrator validates the information, and the applicant can be enrolled in the program. No one can enroll in the program if they fail to pass any of these three verification steps.
Q: How can I verify my income to qualify for this program?
A: If your address is in a qualified census tract, Solstice will confirm this information once you complete enrollment at https://solstice.us/ilsfaoffer/. If you do not live in an eligible census tract, then there are three methods that prospective subscribers can use to verify their income after enrolling:
- You provide existing documentation from pre-qualifying programs.*
- You provide tax transcripts for all household members 18 years or older.
- You provide tax returns or pay stubs and verify the number of members in your household.
*Pre-qualifying programs for verification include SNAP, LIHEAP, IHWAP, Medicaid, HUD Project-Based Vouchers, HUD Project-Based Rental Assistance, Income Eligible Multifamily Energy Efficiency, Illinois Affordable Housing Act, Tax-Subsidized multifamily programs, and programs through ComEd or Ameren.
Q: What are the benefits of enrolling in the program?
A: By enrolling in the program, you will be helping Illinois reach its solar goals while receiving up to 50% off the supply portion of your electric bill, resulting in an estimated 25% savings on your total bill. Plus, you’ll get an additional $25 upfront from Solstice when you sign up!
Q: How can I participate in the program?
A: Prospective subscribers can visit https://solstice.us/ilsfaoffer/ to apply to participate in the program. Select your utility company and click ‘See If You Qualify’ to begin the process. For additional assistance, you can reach our Customer Success team at (866) 826-1997.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: It costs nothing to enroll in ILSFA. Participants will continue to pay their monthly electric bills, but with the savings from the program applied.
Q: How will this change my electric bills and payment process?
A: Once you’ve reserved your panels and the solar farm has come online, you will begin to see the energy produced by the panels as a credit on your utility bill along with your savings applied directly to your bill. Your savings will be locked in at your project’s discount rate. Neither Solstice nor the developer building the solar farm is affiliated with a utility. Subscribers will still be a utility customer responsible for paying their utility bills. Thanks to Utility Consolidated Billing (UCB), your savings and credits are applied directly to your bill, and you will never receive a separate bill from Solstice.
Q: Will the solar energy be going directly to my home?
A: No, your home will not be directly powered by solar energy. When you subscribe to a solar farm, the energy generated by the panels allocated to your subscription will send that renewable, solar energy right back into your local electric grid.
Q: Can I still enroll if I rent my home?
A: Absolutely! Renters can participate in this program if they pay an electric bill.
Q: Why do I need to report my income?
A: Because this program’s savings are so high, it is reserved for households who can use those savings most. Therefore, the ILSFA program asks all participants to qualify by reporting their income. The Solstice Customer Success team is here to walk you through every step of the process!
Q: What happens if I find out I’m not eligible?
If you don’t qualify for the ILSFA program, you can still participate in community solar! We have other solar farms in Illinois that offer a 20% savings on the supply rate of your electric bill. You can enroll at solstice.us/ilsfaoffer.
Programs like ILSFA focus on the people and the communities who can benefit the most from the solar energy economy. For more information on the ILSFA program and education on community solar, please visit the ILSFA Grassroots Education page to get in touch with an educator near you.