Experts tell Montgomery residents time is now to switch to solar

The combination of tax credits and long-term financial incentives is making installing solar panels on homes and businesses are good bet now for Illinois residents, according to energy consultants. (Photo courtesy of ICC)

Thinking of going solar? You’re not alone. More than 50 people showed up at Montgomery Village Hall last week to learn the ins and outs of solar energy during a forum run by experts on the subject.

Curious homeowners, looking to cut their ComEd bills and do good for the environment, got schooled about all things solar during the two-hour forum. From permitting, to purchasing and installation, a wide array of topics was covered.

“I’m impressed by this crowd,” said solar consultant Mark Burger of Seven Generations Ahead. “Montgomery isn’t that big of a place, so kudos to all of you for being here … each of you can really do something to make a difference.”

Seven Generations Ahead works with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to build a healthy and sustainable future.

“You have no excuse not to get solar for some role in your electricity. There are all kinds of options. (Solar panels) may not be on your building, but they’re somewhere in the ComEd service territory or the state,” Burger impressed. “If you do enough shopping around, you can get solar energy. You’ve got lots of options that can save you money in a lot of ways.”

Most people in attendance, however, were homeowners looking to apply solar panels to their own houses. They got a crash course in permitting, installation, tax credits, benefits, and incentives.

Christina Uzzo, environmental outreach coordinator of the Citizens Utility Board, told participants that 2019 is prime time to get started on their solar journeys.

With the Federal Tax Credit offered and new incentive programs being started in Illinois we’re in a “sweet spot,” Uzzo said.

Right now, the common payoff time for the panel’s installation is about seven years. That number will increase as the Federal Tax Credit percentage goes down and reimbursement numbers wane.

“Whatever you do, make the case to get started this year,” Burger expressed.

Montgomery Senior Planner Jerad Chipman said people appear to be listening. The village has approved 18 solar panel permits so far this year.

“We’ve really seen an increase lately,” Chimpan said. “Montgomery has a desire to lead in solar.”

Experts said that home values increase when solar panels are installed, and residences sell more quickly. Five kilowatts of solar can increase the value of a home by $29,000. The average installation cost for a 5kW system is $15,600.

After tax credits and incentives, the out of pocket cost of installing the system is $4,352. The average monthly electricity savings is $50, so the system change is a long-term investment.

That said, the trend is just catching on. In 2018, less than 1% of Illinois electricity was generated by solar energy, and 3,670 installations were performed.

Experts are hoping to see these numbers rise as the affordability and benefits of solar energy become more recognized.

“Illinois is way behind,” Burger said. “Things are starting to pick up, but we have a long way to go.”

For more information on solar energy in the village visit