New Solar Energy Homes for Chicago

As part of its comprehensive clean energy program in the Chicago region, Environmental Resources Trust (ERT), a national non-profit catalyst for renewable energy development, is launching a project to construct 100 Solar Homes in Chicago. The first ten homes will be built this fall, with all 100 to be completed by 2004.

Chicago, Illinois – June 27, 2003 [] The 100 solar or “zero energy” homes will help to supply ERT-certified “EcoPower” renewable energy to the City of Chicago. Mayor Richard Daley has made a commitment to purchase 20 percent of the city government’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2005. ERT launched its EcoPower program in Chicago in 2001 to assist the city in meeting its goal, and to work with Commonwealth Edison to supply this new demand for clean power. Since then the EcoPower program has spurred the development of over 30 MW of new renewable energy in the Chicago region. “The City of Chicago is committed to encouraging the use of sustainable energy sources like solar power in both commercial and residential applications,” said Chicago Environment Commissioner Marcia Jimenez. “Programs like the Environmental Resources Trust and its 100 solar homes are another way that Chicago is working to be the ‘Greenest City in America.” The U.S. Department of Energy and the Illinois Department of Community and Economic Opportunity are providing initial funding for the project as part of the Million Solar Roofs initiative. The affordable homes will be built for purchase by low and moderate income families and will provide over 80 percent savings in average home energy costs, contributing to the affordability of household costs over time. “By supporting the development of energy efficient homes, the State of Illinois is working to ensure that our economic future is secure,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin. “By creating more sources for alternative energy, our state becomes less reliant on fossil fuels and more self-reliant on renewable resources right here in our state.” Project sponsors, United Solar Ovonic LLC, Whirlpool, Osram Sylvania Lighting, Cocoon Insulation and Solargenix are co-funding the program to promote their residential solar energy systems, energy efficient lighting, appliances, insulation, hot water system as well as renewable energy equipment. Contributions include discount lighting, energy efficiency appliances, and hot water systems and will support the affordability of the homes. Commonwealth Edison is supporting this project by interconnecting the homes into the utility’s net metering program. The company will be contribute special metering equipment and labor to enable the 100 proposed solar homes to be inter-connected to the electric grid and sell excess electricity production back to the utility. The Solar homes will produce energy for the electric grid during the day when electricity is at a premium. Comprised of lightweight and durable thin-film solar shingles, Uni-Solar’s SmartRoof solar energy system will generate more than 300 MW hours per year to be sent to the grid and sold as EcoPower certificates on the Green power market. “This is an example of the power of the green power market,” said Alden Hathaway, Director of Green Power Programs at ERT. “Demand for solar power, in this case by the City of Chicago, has created the market incentive to build solar energy-producing homes.”
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