Category Archives: Events

Illinois’ Upcoming Commercial Solar Revolution

By Eric Pasi, CDO of IPS Solar

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) was passed into law on Sep 15th as a landmark bill that prioritizes renewable energy investment in Illinois through the 2020’s, on a pathway to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.  There are many implications and opportunities for organizations looking for predictable and lucrative returns while addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. This is the most opportune time for Illinois facility operators to adopt clean energy strategies. 

Why CEJA and Why Now?

In order to meet carbon reduction goals, nuclear energy is a “must have” technology, at least as it stands today.  Exelon, parent company of ComEd – the state’s largest utility and primary service provider to the Chicago-land area, was on the verge of shutting down two of its nuclear facilities in Dresden and Byron due to a lack of sufficient funding. This bill provides up to $700MM in funding for nuclear facilities, some of which may be matched by federal dollars. Recent extreme weather events were also on the minds of state officials.  At the bill signing Governor Pritzker remarked on historic disasters over the past two and half years including polar vortexes, flooding, record lake levels, heat waves, all of which resulted in emergency declarations in more than a third of Illinois counties. In 2016 the state passed the Future Energy Jobs Act which allocated funding for residents, businesses, municipalities and other organizations to adopt clean energy.  The primary problem was a lack of ongoing funding, which created a boom and bust for the solar industry, putting thousands of jobs in limbo. As part of the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act, this funding is set on a more sustainable pathway, with funding allocations in place through 2030.  Other aspects of the bill include a focus on marginalized communities and entrepreneurs of color, as well as jobs training and placement for fossil fuel workers as those facilities retire across the state. There will be significant investment into utility-scale clean energy projects, but how does the bill affect Illinois organizations and how can they get in on the action?

Solar Means Business (Opportunities)

The primary incentive program for solar and renewable projects is the Adjustable Block Program (ABP), which is curated by the Illinois Power Agency.  With the new bill the ABP is fully funded for the next decade, with allocations specifically for organizations and public entities.

Onsite Solar

Onsite solar projects, located on roofs, on the ground, or on carports, have an allocation of at least 100 megawatts DC per year.  This is the best ROI opportunity for organizations.

  • Incentive compensation is based on selling Renewable Energy Credits (or RECs) to the utility via the ABP program.
  • No project can be larger then 2 megawatts AC (DC sizing can vary but is generally estimated at 1.4MWdc to 1MWac)
  • The pricing of these RECs is attractive, often valued as much as the utility rate itself. REC contracts have a term of 15-years, but accelerated funding payments are fully paid  in  only 7 years.  There are clawback provisions should the system underperform over that 15-year period.
  • Each year incentive funding is segmented into blocks, which decline in value slightly as allocations fill up.
  • Prevailing wage required for all projects except single family residential, multi-family residential, and houses of worship under 100kW.
  • There is a Smart Inverter rebate from the utilities which results in ~10-15% of the project cost being paid upfront as a cash rebate.  This rebate is recalculated once market penetration reaches a certain threshold, as determined by the utilities and Illinois Power Agency
  • Most organizations will realize a 4-5 year simple payback, for an asset that operates for 25 years or more.
  • There are many financing options including Power Purchase Agreements and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which allows organizations to pay for energy improvements via their property taxes (see our PACE blog here).

Community Solar 

Community Solar allows residents and organizations to participate in offsite solar projects, in instances where they either can’t or don’t want panels installed on their homes or buildings. 

  • At least 50% of a community solar project must be subscribed by residential accounts, leaving up to 50% eligible for commercial entities.
  • Organizations with significant roof space or open land can lease space for community solar projects.  This can be an excellent community engagement tool. For building owners, revenues may be lower compared to traditional leasing but these areas are typically underutilized.
  • The first 2 years of annual capacity (250MWac) will open simultaneously within the first 6 months of the bill passing. 
    • 70% of capacity will be designated for Group B (ComEd area)
    • 30% of capacity is available to Group A (Ameren area)
    • Projects will be selected from the existing community solar project waitlist, which means developers will have up to 250,000,000 kWh of subscription capacity for commercial entities in 2022 statewide.
  • New community solar applications allow for project sizes up to 5MWac per site.
  • Specific funding and preferences will be given to projects that address under-served communities via the state’s “Solar for All” program.

Other Programs

  • Electric vehicle incentives will be available both for the vehicle purchasing and charging infrastructure.
  • Energy efficiency and innovation programs will be funded via the utilities.
  • The Solar for All program will support new BIPOC-led businesses with grant funding.

The Time is Now

Impact Power Solutions is proud to have advocated for this bill over the last several years alongside many other stakeholders. IPS helps its clients analyze, prioritize and adopt solar strategies across their portfolio of properties. The popularity of these programs will only increase so it is critical to start the evaluation process in order to benefit from upcoming rounds of the Adjustable Block Program.  Organizations interested in learning more can contact IPS.

2021 Top Solar Contractors: Our 10th Year

What is the 2021 Top Solar Contractor’s List?

Curated by Solar Power World, the Top Solar Contractors list is developed each year to honor the work of solar installers in the United States. Solar firms in the utility, commercial and residential markets are ranked by number of kilowatts installed in the previous year. Companies are grouped and listed by specific service, markets and states.  Solar Power World has recognized our installation success by ranking Impact Power Solutions at No. 13 on the 2021 Top Solar Developers list.

From the Curators of the 2021 Top Solar Contractor’s List

“Not even COVID-19 closures and slowdowns could prevent the solar industry from installing fantastic numbers last year,” said Kelly Pickerel, editor in chief of Solar Power World. “The Solar Power World team is so glad to recognize over 400 companies on the 2021 Top Solar Contractors list that not only survived a pandemic but thrived in spite of it.”

A Year to Remember

The U.S. solar industry grew 43% in last year, installing more solar panels on homes, businesses and across the country than any other year on record. The residential market saw an 11% increase, which is remarkable considering the difficulties of maneuvering home solar projects through pandemic precautions.

The federal government passed a two-year extension on the solar investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2020, which will further accelerate solar adoption across all market segments. After installing 19.2 GW in 2020, research firm Wood Mackenzie expects the U.S. solar market to quadruple by 2030.

Regardless of the turbulence faced last year, solar energy has remained effective in combating greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to fossil fuels, and will continue to aid in efforts for economic recovery

Our Take On Being A Top Solar Contractor

When asked why we keep coming back to the top solar contractors list, Chief Development Officer Eric Pasi said “In the beginning it leant a lot of credibility to our small business, and still does today. It’s also a way to push our team to new heights, trying to beat last year’s statistics and keep growing, which we’ve been able to do.” 

We’re honored to be recognized as a Solar Power World top solar contractor. In the 30 years since our founding, we have never overcome challenges like the ones faced this year. We extend our deepest thanks to our employees, clients, and community for making the installation of 34,618 kilowatts of solar capacity possible, and for the positive impact we’ve made on the environment together. 

If you’re curious to see what solar would look like for your organization, feel free to reach out via email at info@ips-solar.com, contact us, or request a quote to learn more. 

Meyers Printing Goes Solar

 

On October 16th Meyers unveiled their new solar array at their headquarters in Minneapolis, MN in partnership with Impact Power Solutions (IPS). Since 1949, Meyers has been known for creating innovative print materials to support retail marketing. Meyers recently announced that they’re committed to obtaining all electricity from carbon-free sources by the end of 2021 to dramatically reduce carbon emissions. 

Environmental Impact

The 128-panel array will produce roughly 50 kWh per year, enough to power 5 average Minnesota homes. Over the next 30 years, the solar panel system will offset nearly 1,400 tons of CO2, equivalent to the carbon sequestered by roughly 1600 acres of trees.

System Information

  • 128 Panels
  • 48.64 kW System Size
  • 89,465 pounds of Co2 Offset Per Year
  • 57,395 kWh of electricity Generated Per Year
  • View More

“Companies are often forced to choose between doing the right thing for sustainability and offering cost-effective solutions. We realized this could be done so efficiently that it might even lower our long-term costs. As a result, our customers won’t see any price increases as we move ahead with this plan.” – Chris Dillon, President, Meyers

Why Did Meyers Choose Solar Energy?

Making the decision to move forward with a commercial solar array isn’t always an easy one, but for Meyers, the decision was made clear by scientific consensus and their initiatives for sustainability. 

“Brands and retailers are more focused on sustainability than ever before. Sustainability has become a mantra that drives consumer behavior. And, we’re proud to serve customers and partners that are similarly committed to safeguarding our collective future by heeding the scientific community’s warnings and calls to action. This means everything from using 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) materials to reducing their carbon footprint, including the carbon footprint of their entire supply chain.” – Mike Lane, CEO, Meyers

The decision to make the switch to solar allows Meyers to take another step toward sustainability, save thousands in overhead costs, and allows their stakeholders an opportunity to feel involved in making an impact on climate change.

Congratulations, Meyers!

From the project’s inception to completion, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with our partners at Meyers. IPS is available to assist businesses and organizations in answering questions about solar energy. Interested businesses and organizations can contact us to learn more.

 

A Recap of the Red Lake Webinar

In February of 2016, Red Lake Nation announced plans of beginning a solar project to power several of their buildings in Northern Minnesota. With a rising mercury level in their local lakes from coal plant emissions, the savings from solar would allow the tribe’s commercial fishery to continue operation. 

Corporate financing fell through, but with the help of creative financing and community interest, the tribe completed the first of several installations, progressing toward one of the largest solar projects in Northern Minnesota.   

In this webinar, the panelists shared their first-hand experience with the project, answering these important questions:

    • What has this project taught you?
    • How does renewable energy fit with the tribe’s accountability decree?
    • How important was it to involve the local workforce with the installation instead of bringing in outside crews?
    • How can other communities use this project as a model?
    • When did you become aware of MnVest and what made you go that direction for project financing?
    • How did you find out about the Red Lake project and why is it important to share this story?
    • What has the reaction been from tribe members?
    • What is your definition of energy sovereignty?
    • What is the relationship between clean energy and equity in Minnesota, and how can clean energy businesses play an increased role in helping low-income and communities of color have increased access to clean energy?
 

Panelists:

Amelia Cerling Hennes of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, Bob Blake of Solar Bear, Ralph Jacobson of IPS, Darrell G. Seki Sr of Red Lake Nation.  

Solar Energy: A Tool For Community Empowerment

 

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota in collaboration with Solar Bear and Impact Power Solutions invite you to watch the video premiere of Red Lake Nation’s solar story!

In February of 2016, Red Lake Tribal leaders announced plans to become energy independent. Unfortunately, the band experienced economic hardship and was unable to install solar on their own.

With support from the community and solar industry leaders, a creative plan was developed to help Red Lake achieve their vision by leveraging crowdfunding. The plan was a success, and construction on phase two began last month on one of the largest solar projects in Northern Minnesota.

Join us to learn:

● How Red Lake tribal leaders are using solar energy to achieve energy independence.
● How this project is creating jobs and opportunities for Red Lake Nation.
● How solar will help this community live sustainably.
● The challenges they faced and how they overcame them.
● What’s in store for the next steps of the project and the community.

Following the premiere, join the project’s stakeholders for a Q&A session to answer questions about the project, and how you can bring clean energy to your community.

 

Register for Free!

Robert Blake

Founder & Solar Outreach @Solar Bear

Robert Blake is the owner of Solar Bear a solar installation company located in Minneapolis, MN, the Ojibwe pronunciation is Gizis-o-makwa. Robert is the Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development a Non- Profit located also in Minneapolis, MN. Robert is a graduate student at the University of Minnesotan Carlson Executive Master of Business Administration (CEMBA) program. Robert is a tribal citizen of the Red Lake Nation. His passion is spreading the word of renewable energy through communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

Darrell G. Seki, Sr.

Chairman @Red Lake Nation

Ralph Jacobson

Founder & Chief JEDI Officer @Impact Power Solutions

While earning his Bachelor of Science in Materials Science (Minnesota, 1989), Ralph developed a strong interest in photovoltaics. He decided to get into the business of designing and installing PV power systems, and in 1991, he founded IPS. In his 20-year service on the board of directors of the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society, Jacobson initiated events such as the MN Solar Boat Regatta, the MN Solar Home Tour, and public classes on solar energy. More recently, he served as the founding president of the MN Solar Energy Industries Association. He is currently engaged in pioneering the market for energy storage in Minnesota and more engagement with people of color in the local industry.

Amelia Cerling Hennes

Director of Communications & Public Affairs @Clean Energy Economy Minnesota

Amelia is responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies to broaden the impact of CEEM’s public policy and oversee the organization’s overall communications and marketing strategy. Amelia is a storyteller at heart – and uses stories to help further CEEM’s mission to support and expand clean energy jobs and economic opportunities provided by clean, reliable and affordable energy on behalf of all Minnesotans. Amelia holds degrees in broadcast journalism and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She has more than a decade of experience in her field, including serving in the communications department at the Minnesota Senate, and serving as Weekend Anchor for the NBC affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Meet Saint Paul’s Largest Commercial Solar Array

On August 4, 2020, in partnership with Impact Power Solutions, Vomela unveiled its new solar-powered corporate headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Who Does the Commercial Solar Array Belong to?

Vomela is known for transforming ideas into memorable brand experiences through print media, offering a full spectrum of services to companies ranging from major retailers to local businesses since 1947. The industry leader moved to their new 300,000 square foot headquarters in the East Side of St. Paul in 2019, and regularly contributes to sustainability and making an impact

What Impact Will the Commercial Solar Array make on the Environment?

The 3,408 panels will produce roughly 1,600,000 kWh per year, enough to power 131 average Minnesota homes. Over 30 years the solar panel system will offset nearly 36,000 tons of CO2, the equivalent of adding over 44,000 acres of trees to our forests.

  • 3,408 Panels
  • 1.3 Megawatt System Size
  • 2,400,000 Lbs of Co2 Offset Per Year
  • 1,483 Acres of Forest Preserved Per Year
  • 1,606,500 Killawatt Hours Generated Per Year

 

“It’s good news for our environment, it’s good news for our children, it’s good news for our lungs, and it’s good news for our future.” –Melvin Carter, Mayor of Saint Paul

Why Did Vomela Choose Solar Energy?

Making the decision to move forward with a commercial solar array isn’t always an easy one, but for Vomela, the decision just made sense.

“Where many companies used to ask “Why solar?”, the answer has become “Why not?”

The decision to make the switch to solar allowed Vomela to take another step toward sustainability, save thousands in their overhead costs, and allowed everyone to feel involved in making an impact on climate change. 

Congratulations, The Vomela Companies!

“Vomela has also been a great partner, and very smart about energy. They understand that solar makes them more competitive. Working with visionary teams like Vomela typically leads to successful outcomes.” – Eric Pasi

From the project’s inception to completion, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with our partners at Vomela. We’re always happy to be a resource to help companies realize the potential of commercial solar for their business, and to build a better future by providing access to renewable energy.

If you’re ready to make an impact on the environment and your overhead costs, visit our projects page to learn more and get a quote today to get started.

Impact Power Solutions Ranked top 10 Solar Developer in the US

What is the Top Solar Contractor’s List?

Curated by Solar Power World, the Top Solar Contractors list is made to showcase the work of solar installers and developers of all sizes. The list is determined by the number of kilowatts installed by a solar energy company in the previous year, divided into categories by the type of service the top solar contractor provides, regions, and states.

From the Curators of the Top Solar Contractor’s List

“The Solar Power World team is so pleased to highlight more than 400 companies on the 2020 Top Solar Contractors list, especially during this unprecedented time,” said Kelsey Misbrener, senior editor of Solar Power World. “All contractors featured on the 2020 list reported strong 2019 installation numbers and are continuing to stand tall this year.”

Top Solar Contractors Continue To Strive For Recovery

Despite COVID-19 being the immediate issue for the world to address, reducing carbon emissions to aid in climate change remains a top priority that affects all of us. 


The top solar contractors that made the list, the people we work with, and the communities we live in are all facing obstacles that have never been seen before. Q1 showed the largest amount of solar capacity ever installed in the United States, adding 3.6 GW of solar capacity. The force of these challenges emerged in Q2, with forecasts of 25% and 38% decreases in year to year volumes in 2020. 


Regardless of the turbulence faced in these uncertain times, solar energy is still effective in combating greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to fossil fuels, and will continue to aid in efforts for economic recovery

Our Take On Being A Top Solar Contractor

We’re thrilled to announce that we are the #1 solar developer in the Midwest, among the top 10 commercial solar developers in the US, and grateful to be a part of Solar Power World’s Top Solar Contractors list for the 8th consecutive year.

 

In the 29 years since our founding, we have never faced challenges like the ones we see today. We extend our deepest thanks to our employees, clients, and community for making the installation of 29,784 kilowatts of solar capacity possible, and for the positive impact we’ve made on the environment together. 

The Pathway to Larger-Scale Solar in Minnesota – Parts 1-4

Celebrate Earth Day at Amsterdam Bar!

Earth Day Solar Happy Hour

Join us at Amsterdam Hall & Bar to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and we’re celebrating!

After an advocacy-filled day at the State Capitol, we’re making the short trip over to Amsterdam Hall and Bar to celebrate 50 years of solar progress.

Details

– This is a free event
– All ages are welcome!
– Appetizers will be provided


For more info on other Earth Day activities: https://mnearthday.org/

Amsterdam Hall is a quick Green Line trip from the Capitol. IPS will provide light rail passes for all attendees.

 

Register for Free!

 

Map to Earthday Solar Happy Hour

Mounds View Solar Educator Workshop Recap

On Saturday, February 8th, we hosted our first Solar Educator Workshop of 2020 at Mounds View High School. We had a wonderful time helping over 20 teachers develop new solar curriculum to bring to their classrooms and STEM programs!

Our Education Director, Michael Cartwright (a physics teacher for over 20 years) leads the workshops with IPS as a part of our Sunrise Program

Our Sunrise Program provides FREE Training – presenting some data visualization tools, as well as offering insight about how to adapt solar lessons for your classroom.

Sunrise event attendees receive three hours worth of continuing education credits and Solar Activities Kits to use in their classrooms.

Interested in attending a future educators workshop? Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed!

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