Sunnova Energy, the United States’ largest privately-held residential solar and energy storage service provider, announced last week that it was expanding into the state of Illinois, starting with solar lease options and quickly adding solar loan products.
Based in Houston, Texas, Sunnova Energy is the largest privately residential solar company, but not one of the top five residential solar installers in the US (SolarCity/Tesla, Sunrun, Vivint Solar, Trinity Solar Power, and Titan Solar Power, according to GTM Research). Nevertheless, Sunnova operates in 22 states and territories across the United States (including Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands) after beginning operations in 2012 and boasting nearly 60,000 customers across its operating base.
As of last week, the number of states and territories the company is working in has increased to 23, after Sunnova announced that it was expanding into Illinois, beginning with offering homeowners with the opportunity to go solar using Sunnova’s 25-year solar lease agreement.
“Our goal is to empower homeowners across the northern part of Illinois to generate clean energy from their rooftops,” said William J. (John) Berger, Chief Executive Officer of Sunnova Energy Corporation. “Thanks to a solar-friendly regulatory landscape, Illinoisans are now able to contract for greater energy savings and greater service through Sunnova’s 25-year Sunnova Protect warranty. We applaud the business and regulatory leaders of Illinois for creating a market opportunity to enable more clean energy for the state. Recent changes in policy surrounding the Illinois Solar Renewable Credit (SREC) program have opened up generous incentives, allowing consumers to undercut local utility rates.”
The move comes on the heels of what Sunnova describes as “strong state incentives and rising utility prices” making the introduction of solar not only a sensible business opportunity but a great opportunity for Illinoisans. Specifically, according to a Sunnova spokesperson, “We decided to enter the IL market due in part to a recent change in policy around the Illinois Solar Renewable Credit (SREC) program, which offers generous incentives to homeowners and also makes solar more reasonable than the utility rate. This allows us to offer greater savings to our customers through residential solar.” Sunnova follows into Illinois big-name rivals Sunrun and Vivint Solar, which moved into Illinois in April and August, respectively.
Not only are there helpful state incentives, but according to the US Energy Information Administration and highlighted by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Illinois currently only generates 0.7% of its electricity from solar, creating tremendous potential for residential solar companies of all sizes.
The pace of solar growth in Illinois is expected to be fueled by the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) which hopes to take “important steps towards [the] state’s clean energy future while preserving the state’s competitive rates. As part of the goals of Illinois’ FEJA is a commitment to “strengthen and expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard to ensure stable, predictable funding for renewable development, providing $180 million per year — growing to $220 million per year — in funding for renewable resources, including new wind power, large-scale solar power, and rooftop and community solar.”
Further, the Illinois Power Agency has set out a plan to acquire 25% of the state’s energy from renewable energy sources by 2025 (stemming from the FEJA). While Illinois is currently ranked 33rd among states in terms of solar growth, Wood Mackenzie predicts that the state will grow to 13th in solar growth over the next five years.
“Not only does the move into the Illinois market allow Sunnova to bring solar to more homeowners, it also allows us to work closely and help fuel the growth of our network of regional solar installation dealers in the Midwest,” added John Santo Salvo, EVP of Channel Operations and Chief Procurement Officer of Sunnova. “More solar equals more solar jobs. With our Illinois dealers, we are eager to provide homeowners with better options to better control their monthly electricity bills and, at the same time, reduce the amount of energy they have to pull from the grid.”