Absolutely. If we define viability as a return on investment set around 10 years followed by energy independence for the rest of the life of the system. In addition, a solar panel system increases your home value and hedges against utility rate hikes.
Incentives: Up to 50% off your Entire Solar Energy Installation
The federal government recently extended the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar until 2019 and then stepping it down through 2021. This is the largest incentive in Illinois for solar. Now, in 2020, the credit covers 26% off of the solar array install (material and labor). This has been an amazing driver for the expansion of solar arrays across rooftops throughout the U.S.
The state has decided to encourage solar in Illinois power by requiring utilities that produce electricity through “dirty” means (i.e., fossil fuels) to offset their damage by producing a portion.
The goal is to reach 25% renewable sources by 2025.
Utilities are struggling to shift production and keep up with the requirements. To meet their requirement utilities buy “green” credits on a credit market. Residents that have solar on their roofs (solar generation stations) can sell their clean energy to the big boys.
These Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECS) can recoup about 20% of your pv system cost, based on current market value. Unfortunately, the SREC fund is due to run out in the near future. There is currently no initiative to renew the program for another round of funding.
Geography: Still in the “Hot Zone“
Chicago proper sits around 42 degrees North latitude. This has several implications on power production. Our solar days in the Winter are pretty short. The most obvious evidence is going into and out of the office in total darkness.
This disparity is compensated, however, by our extremely long summer days. All said and told, our average daily hours of production are around 4.4 hrs. This is plenty of sun to power a module array that can offset much or all of your power usage. Solar power in Central Illinois is a great investment.
Basic Breakdown to Estimate Electric Production of Solar Panel Array
4.4 hours a day x 365 days = 1606 hours a year of potential production!
Let’s assume you have a 5kW system
5kW x 1606 hours/yr = 8030 kWH/yr!
Divide that number by 12 (months) and you will get average monthly production.
8030 kWH/yr / 12 months = 669.17 kWH offset a month!
If your rate is $0.14/kWH (rough approximation for ComEd) then:
669.17 kWH * $0.14/kWH = $93.68 off your bill each month
Unfortunately, ComEd will not allow overproduction, so your PV System must be sized appropriately to your current usage. They will only buy back what you use (net metering). They don’t want you to be a competing utility, but they will let you have a “free ride.”