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State

Illinois putting $30M of solar into energy mix

CHICAGO – Illinois will buy up to $30 million worth of solar power and pump it into the energy mix for electricity customers under legislation signed into law Saturday that also promotes the spread of home rooftop panels.

The law, which takes effect immediately, requires the Illinois Power Agency to purchase solar power to meet a portion of the state's electricity needs. It establishes a competitive process to purchase the energy from new or existing solar installations, which could include rooftop solar panels that homeowners can use to sell any leftover power back to the electricity grid.

"Thousands of residents will soon get cheaper, cleaner energy, and we will create good-paying jobs for working families in the process," Gov. Pat Quinn said in a news release announce the bill signing.

The Illinois Power Agency was set up in 2007 to develop plans for buying renewable energy for utilities to feed into the grid. The money for the solar power purchases comes from the agency's Renewable Energy Resources Fund, which is made up of clean energy fees paid by power suppliers.

The measure signed Saturday was sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston and state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat.

"Over the past few years, we've seen wind energy take off in Illinois," Harmon said. "I hope that this investment starts a similar revolution in solar energy."

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