City launches Community Solar Program, hires solid waste coordinator

A diagram shows three solar panels connecting to an electric tower. The tower connects to a house and a cartoon image of an electric bill. There is a blue sky and green hills in the background.

Courtesy of MC Squared Energy Services, LLC.

A diagram shows how Evanston’s Community Solar Program will make renewable solar energy available to Evanston residents. The city announced the program’s launch in a Monday newsletter.

William Clark, Reporter

Evanston announced that residents will be able to sign up for the Community Solar Program in a Monday newsletter. The Community Solar Program, which operates in partnership with Chicago-based MC Squared Energy Services, will allow residents to use carbon-neutral solar energy with no installation fee or on-site solar panels.

The Community Solar Program will expand the number of people who have access to solar energy, since it will be available to residents who live in apartments and condominiums or cannot install rooftop solar panels for financial reasons.

The program uses energy generated by privately-developed, large-scale solar projects located in Cortland and Lena, Illinois. These solar projects generate carbon-neutral electricity and supply it to utility companies’ power grids. Residents who use the program will essentially be subscribing to a portion of panels at the solar projects. In exchange, they will receive a credit for the electricity generated by their portion.

The Community Solar Program is part of Evanston’s broader Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which plans for carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as more specific benchmarks, such as a 100 percent renewable electricity supply for all Evanston properties by 2030.

As residents install rooftop solar and enroll in the Community Solar Program, Kumar Jensen, Evanston’s chief sustainability and resilience officer, told the Daily he thinks Evanston is on track to meet CARP’s renewable energy generation targets. 

Residents who sign up for the program can stay with their current utility and will be guaranteed 20 percent savings on the energy supply section of their monthly electricity bills, the city newsletter said. There are also no termination fees for the Community Solar Program.

According to a press release, about 600 subscriptions will be available to Evanston residents right away, although there could be 900 by the end of the summer. Subscriptions will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

The Monday newsletter also announced Jensen will be stepping down from his role as chief sustainability and resilience officer at the end of the summer, and the city is in the process of recruiting for the role.

The city also announced it will hire a solid waste coordinator to improve Evanston’s recycling and composting programs in alignment with CARP’s target of reaching zero-waste by 2050.

“We are certainly not on track to meet our general waste goals (right now),” Jensen told the Daily in April. “(The city’s data) is mostly showing a pretty stagnant (waste) diversion rate.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @willsclark01

Related Stories: 
City to relaunch sustainable business recognition program and begin new solar initiative
Evanston enters 30-month partnership with Chicago firm for electricity aggregation program
As CARP deadlines approach, some advocates say city sustainability initiatives require increased funding and staffing