PROGRAM FAQ What is Solar Chicago? How does it work? How can I learn more about the program?

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1 PROGRAM FAQ What is Solar Chicago? How does it work? Solar Chicago is a residential solar group program being undertaken by the City of Chicago (City), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Vote Solar, a non-profit organization working to bring solar energy into the mainstream. The City was recently designated the Earth Hour Capital of the United States by WWF for its sustainability efforts, including its focus on lowering costs for residential solar systems. Solar Chicago will continue these efforts to help expand the local solar market by making solar easy and more affordable than ever for homeowners in the Chicago metro area. To express your interest in receiving a free solar evaluation and proposal, please register on the program webpage. Once an installer(s) is selected, a representative will call you to discuss the best option for you and will provide a customized quote, and you will benefit from the negotiated program pricing. How can I learn more about the program? We are currently developing the program schedule for a series of events and webinars throughout the summer. Once the schedule is finalized, we will post information on the News tab of the Solar Chicago program webpage. Do you have to be a City of Chicago resident to participate? Solar Chicago will cover (at a minimum) homeowners within the City of Chicago and the Villages of Franklin Park, Hanover Park, Oak Park, and Wilmette. Additional geographic availability for suburban locations outside the Chicago city limits will depend upon the specific solar installer proposals received by the program. Once the installer selection process is complete, we will be able to provide more details on the overall geographic coverage (both as a map and a list of community names) where service is available. How is the installer being selected? A community evaluation team, composed of volunteers, is vetting installer proposals received in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP). This RFP was distributed to solar installation firms both within Illinois and nationally, in the hope of finding the right combination of equipment quality, responsive customer service, installation experience, and attractive system pricing. The community evaluation team, composed of your peers, will do a lot of the back-end work to save you time and make this process simple and cost-effective. Does Solar Chicago require any certifications? Yes, the Solar Chicago program is requiring installers participating in the program to be licensed in each community within the Program Area, and by the State of Illinois as Distributed Generation installers. How long do I have to sign up? Program registration is open now through September 30th, Once installer selection is complete, the program pricing and any volume rebates will apply throughout the entire program timeframe, so sign up now and encouraging others to join as well. In addition, the earlier you get started, the sooner the installer can design and install your system to help you start saving on your utility bills.

2 How will my registration information be used / shared? The personal and household information you submit during program registration will not be shared outside of the program. We collect this information and provide it to the selected solar installer(s) to use in providing you with a no-cost, no-obligation solar site evaluation for your home. This information is useful in advance to help the installer begin to evaluate your home remotely using overhead aerial imagery, which helps speed up the overall assessment and proposal process. In addition, we will occasionally provide you with program updates. If at any time you decide to no longer participate in the program, we will gladly remove you from our contact database. If I sign up for a free solar consultation, is there any obligation to purchase or install? No. By registering for Solar Chicago, you are indicating your interest in receiving a solar evaluation & proposal from the selected Installer. The proposal will determine your home s solar suitability and will explain your financial options, but you will be under no obligation to purchase or finance a system. GENERAL SOLAR QUESTIONS Why go Solar? Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity through the photovoltaic effect and is one of the fastest growing forms of residential renewable energy used in the U.S. This program offers not only include discounted equipment and financing options, but will also help you take advantage of federal and state incentives that can make solar power an affordable clean energy solution. How does a Solar Electric system work? A solar electric system is also called a photovoltaic array or PV system (Photo = light and Voltaic = energy). Solar PV panels made of semiconductor material (primarily crystalline silicon) capture sunlight and convert it to direct electric current (DC). In order to change DC power to safe alternating current (AC) that can be used in your home, the program installer will also install an inverter as a part of your system. The inverter is then connected to your electrical panel (or electrical box) for distribution throughout your house. If your system generates more electricity than your home is using at the moment, it will return to the utility grid and you will receive a bill credit (under net metering) that you can use later in the year, when you re using more than you re producing (e.g. at night / during the winter months). Is there enough sunlight in Chicago for Solar PV to work? According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, Chicago can expect an average of 4.4 kwh / m^2 / day of solar radiation, and each kw of a solar system will produce (on average) over 1,100 kwh during that year. While not as high as Arizona or California, this is comparable to the sunlight available in Germany, the world leader in solar installations. Is this enough sun for solar to work? Yes. Is it enough sun to make solar work for you? That depends on your roof's solar access and your energy usage, and we recommend getting a customized proposal for your home to find out. Can solar panels handle severe Chicago weather (e.g. hail, snow, wind, thunderstorms)? Solar panels are pretty durable, and undergo testing by Underwriters Laboratory to meet standard As part of that testing, panels undergo ice sphere impacts to simulate hail, and are designed to withstand such impacts. In addition, panels are tested to operate in a temperature range from -40 to +85 Celsius. Regarding wind and snow loading, these issues will be addressed by your local jurisdiction as part of the permitting process. And while snow on top of panels can reduce solar production, it will cause no lasting damage once it melts.

3 How many solar panels will I need for my property? The number of panels / size of the system required for a home depends primarily on the amount of electricity currently used, so each home will be different. To learn more about how solar can address your individual energy usage, gather your last 12 months of electricity usage and register for the program. An Installer representative use that information to calculate how many panels you need, and how many you can install based on the amount of roof space you have available. How do I know if my roof is suitable for solar? Solar works on many kinds of roofs, ideally those that have significant life left, aren t overly shaded, and preferably face south, southwest or west (to capture the most sun throughout the day). If you know that your roof is in need of replacing, or will be soon, it is recommended that you take care of that upgrade at the same time you install your solar system. Your solar system will last for at least twenty-five years and while you can do a roof replacement or repairs once your system has been installed, it can be a significant added expense to remove and reinstall panels. If my roof is shaded, does that make a difference? Shade reduces the amount of electricity your system can produce. Solar panels can tolerate some shade, particularly early in the morning and late in the afternoon. However, some roof locations may be too shady to make solar feasible. By registering for the program, an Installer representative can begin assessing your roof, analyzing the shade potential, and designing a system to maximize sun exposure. How much maintenance is required? Solar PV systems generally require very little maintenance. Light cleaning a few times a year to remove excessive dust and debris is typically all that is needed, and is often taken care of through normal rainfall. Inverters that convert DC current to AC is warrantied for years (depending on the model chosen), and will likely need replacement sometime during the operating life of the panels. If you choose to lease a system, maintenance is included as part of the lease agreement. How does a solar PV system increase the value of my property? According to a 2011 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) study, homes with solar systems sell for a premium compared to homes that don t have them. LBNL evaluated home sales in California from and contrasted the sale price of homes with solar systems and without. On average, PV systems added $5.50 per watt to a home s value. So a typical 4 kw system increased a home's value by $22,000 In Chicago, with so few systems installed to date in the metropolitan area, it's difficult to come up with a comparable value, though we do imagine that solar would help set your home apart from other homes for sale, and definitely offers new buyers value in the form of lower future utility bills. Will I have power during a blackout? Unfortunately, no. Grid-tied solar inverters are synchronized to the grid to ensure safety during a blackout both for you and the electric company s employees. During a grid blackout, your system s inverter will shut down automatically. When power is restored to the grid your system will resume normal operation. FINANCING QUESTIONS What financing options are available under this program? Is leasing also available? During the RFP Process, Solar Chicago is seeking financing options to allow you to go solar without needing to invest the entire system cost up front. The exact types of financing and their

4 terms will be made available once the installer selection process is complete. What rebates and other incentives are available? There is currently a 30% federal tax credit that you can claim on your income tax return next year, or roll over into future years. IL state rebates are currently closed for FY2014, and will reopen in FY2015. For more information on the state rebates and their availability, visit: In addition, the Illinois Power Agency is currently in the process of establishing a market for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). More information about SRECs and their financial benefits will be available later in HOUSING TYPE QUESTIONS Are multi-family / condominium buildings eligible for Solar Chicago? Solar Chicago's availability for larger multifamily buildings will depend upon the specific solar installer proposals received by the program. Once the installer selection is complete, we will be able to provide more details on the specific building type coverage. With that in mind, a number of issues (both physical and financial) that are present with multi-family buildings do not exist for single-family homes, and can make multi-family installations more expensive, or possibly infeasible. These issues include building envelope ownership / control, available roof space, application of electric generation to individual units or common loads, and financing availability. In general, solar may be installed on multi-unit residential buildings (with multiple owners) in one of two ways. The first method is to install solar and use the generated electricity for any common area electric-usage, like hallway or landscape lighting. In this instance, the solar system would be owned by the homeowners association (HOA) itself and would be considered a commercially owned solar system. The second method involves installing individual systems that benefit specific electric meters on specific units. In this case, while the HOA wouldn't own the solar system itself (which would be owned by the owner of the unit it supplies), the HOA would need to give written approval and authorization to have the solar equipment (including panels, external conduit/wiring, and electrical boxes) installed on any commonly-owned surface, including the roof and building walls, as condominium owners typically only own the space they reside in. This type of HOA / owner-approval is a standard industry requirement, and any solar contractor will need to have permission from the legal property owner to perform work on a building. What if I m a renter? Only the legal owner of a property may enter into a contract to install a solar system. If you rent your home or apartment, and the owner is interested in going solar, they may register on the program webpage and participate. Additionally, as you the tenant may benefit from the reduced electricity bill, you will need to discuss with your landlord/owner how to handle future utility payments. Your local rent board may have more information on how to address that particular financial arrangement. Is Solar Chicago offering other home energy efficiency improvements? While energy efficiency isn t directly a part of the Solar Chicago program, reducing your electricity demand is a great way to reduce the amount of solar you need to install, and thus the costs of going solar. We highly encourage all participants to consider energy efficiency, and there are numerous resources available in ComEd service territory, through either ComEd itself, or other

5 energy-efficiency programs: ComEd Home Energy Efficiency Incentives: CUB Energy Saver Program: Retrofit Chicago: Energy Energy Impact Illinois: Elevate Energy:

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