Illinois's 1997 electric-industry restructuring legislation created separate public benefits funds that support renewable energy and residential energy efficiency. The Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund (RERTF) supports renewables through grants, loans and other incentives administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The funding mechanism was established for 10 years in January 1998. In August 2007, funding was extended through December 12, 2015.
Renewable-energy projects eligible for RERTF support include wind energy, solar-thermal energy, photovoltaics, dedicated crops grown for energy production and organic waste biomass, hydropower that does not involve new construction or significant expansion of hydropower dams, and "other such alternative sources of environmentally preferable energy." Energy from the incineration, burning or heating of waste wood, tires, garbage, general household, institutional and commercial waste, industrial lunchroom or office waste, landscape waste, or construction or demolition debris is not eligible. Public Act 97-0072 also permits DCEO to award grants for smart grid technology, effective July 1, 2011. Click here to view open renewable energy grant opportunities funded by the RERTF.
The RERTF is supported by a surcharge on customers' electric bills and gas bills known as the Renewable Energy Resource and Coal Technology Development Assistance Charge. Participation is required for investor-owned utilities, but voluntary for municipal utilities and electric cooperatives. Half of the money collected by the surcharges supports the RERTF, while the other half supports the Coal Technology Development Assistance Fund. The surcharge varies by customer class as follows:
$0.05 per month for residential electric service
$0.05 per month for residential gas service
$0.50 per month for nonresidential electric service with less than 10 megawatts (MW) of peak demand during the previous calendar year
$0.50 per month for nonresidential gas service with less than 4 million therms of gas during the previous calendar year
$37.50 per month for nonresidential electric service with at least 10 MW of peak demand during the previous calendar year
$37.50 per month for nonresidential gas service taking at least 4 million therms of gas during the previous calendar year
Through 2013, $54.9 million in incentives had been awarded via 223 issued grants and more than 1,600 rebates. The RERTF receives approximately $5 million - $6.5 million per year to fund eligible projects. The 2013 Annual Report is available here.