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Columns

Matt Brolley: Montgomery to host forum on solar energy systems

Matt Brolley
Matt Brolley

Solar energy is a hot topic across Illinois in recent days. The increase in interest is partially due to recent incentives from State of Illinois to install solar energy systems on residential and commercial properties. The village has seen a dramatic increase in permit activity for solar arrays, and has been contacted more frequently about solar solicitor permitting. I have talked with many residents about installing solar panels on their roofs recently, and came to the conclusion that a forum hosted by the village would be a great way to provide information to residents and answer any resident questions prior to them installing the solar panels. 

The Solar Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. The forum will be held in the board room of the Village Hall at 200 North River Street. Guest speakers include representatives from ComEd, Seven Generations Ahead and the Citizens Utility Board. Topics of discussion will include how to apply for a solar permit, the available incentives that are currently being offered, how solar panels will affect your assessment and much more. The forum is open to everyone, and we anticipate a great event with a large amount of educational information being shared.

One of the main reasons you may be hearing more about solar panel installations lately, is because the new state incentives are overlapping with federal government incentives, creating a prime opportunity for property owners. This year in particular is appealing as the federal incentives begin to gradually decrease beginning in 2020. These incentives have prompted companies to increase marketing of solar installations, especially on residential properties. Note that a permit is required to install solar panels on your home or business.

The village is in a good position to permit these installations due to a forward looking zoning ordinance amendment that was approved approximately eight years ago. The ordinance allows up to 60 percent of a residential roof to be covered with solar panels. The permit is easy to apply for and a licensed solar installation contractor can provide the needed diagrams and specifications for review by village staff. The permit review and response will be conducted in only a few days. The permit review will either result in approval of the application, request for additional materials or comments regarding items to update in order to comply with the zoning ordinance standards. 

Village elected officials and staff have been pursuing recognition for their efforts to promote solar installations and provide a simple permitting process through a SolSmart designation. There are 229 SolSmart communities across the country. The program receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation, which provides technical assistance. Additional information regarding the designation will be available in May. The designation contributes to the village’s efforts towards implementing the Greenest Region Compact, which was created by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and its membership to guide and unify regional sustainability efforts.

I hope that you are as interested in renewable energy, especially solar energy generation, as I am. Join the village’s efforts to implement the Greenest Regions Compact by learning more about solar installations. I look forward to seeing you at the Solar Forum and learning about the installations, incentives and ordinance standards along with you.  

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