Solar Power Green Moment
by Emma Ugarcovici, GGN High School Student Intern
I remember my first time seeing solar panels on a roof when I was eight and thinking they were some cool, new decoration. My parents told me what they were called and eight-year-old me heard something about sun and energy. And now, ten years later, a senior in high school, I strive to educate myself on sustainability, and I believe that every member of the public should too.
As the board knows, the Village’s Climate Action Plan anticipates the current and projected climate change impacts on Northbrook and provides guidance and specific actions to build the community’s resilience to these changes.
Solar power is a great area to explore. In Section 3, titled “Buildings and Energy”, nine strategies are outlined for improving the community’s energy, both how we use it and where we get it from. These strategies include increasing residential and commercial green electricity purchasing village-wide to 5% by 2030, and increasing on-site distributed renewable energy to 10% of Residential and Commercial electric use by 2030.
The goal is to have 50% renewable energy for all Village buildings and operations by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Wouldn’t it be great if our residential and commercial buildings could reach numbers that high?
The Climate Action Plan discusses the creation of a community-wide “Solarize” program for commercial and industrial purchases of Solar panels and technology, to improve renewable energy policy and incentives, and to require a solar cell assessment as part of all building permit submissions. And, of course, educating the public on solar and renewable energy (at local fairs and events, for example).
A good way to start learning is by attending a local event. And you’re in luck! On Saturday, September 25 from 10am-3:00pm is the Northbrook Solar Tour in conjunction with Illinois Solar Education Association.
The tour is self-guided and on the illinoissolar.org site you will find information about registering for the event. There are tons of virtual and local in-person tours of homes that are benefiting the environment and getting low cost energy. Trustee Israel’s house is on the tour! If you or someone you know has solar panels, they can register to participate in the event as well and educate others about how they use solar power.
We also want to make sure you know about the program Illinois Solar for All, which provides rooftop solar panels at no upfront cost and a guaranteed discount for income-qualified customers through a state solar incentive. Their website is illinoissfa.com (Illinois + abbreviation Solar for All).
The topic of solar power is very current. Yesterday, Illinois legislators passed a bill that bumps the utility renewable energy requirements up to 40% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. This will help drive the market in renewable energy, making it less expensive to get solar panels. Every step we take is a step towards a more sustainable community!