Anyone who is an electricity customer in Brookfield, both residential and commercial, will soon have the opportunity to support renewable energy initiatives and save some money by receiving net metering credits that are applied to their electric bills.

On Feb. 8, Brookfield trustees voted unanimously to join the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus’ Community Solar Clearinghouse Solution Program, known as CS2 for short, to connect local residents and businesses with community solar projects via a subscription model where customers earn net metering credits depending on their size.

CS2 is a program that resulted from a partnership in 2018 of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and The Power Bureau, a consulting company that, according to its website, “provides energy commodity procurement and planning services” to small and mid-size organizations, including municipalities.

Initially, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus opened up CS2 to municipalities in the Chicago region in 2019 following the completion of the Rainy Solar project in Elgin. Rainy Solar is a 1.18 megawatt rooftop solar array and it drew subscriptions for renewable energy credits from eight communities, seven of them in the north suburbs and one nearby, in Oak Park.

According to the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, those communities stand to save 10 percent in electricity supply costs over a 20-year period. 

In September 2020, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Power Bureau rolled out a CS2 Residential pilot program to a consortium of seven North Shore communities. Each community serves as a “sponsor” for CS2 Residential in order connect homeowners and business owners to an “approved” solar subscription offer.

More than 1,300 North Shore residential customers have subscribed to receive metering credits that are applied to their electric bills, resulting in modest cost savings. According to the North Shore Community Solar website, “a typical North Shore home can support the deployment of 30 solar panels at a community solar farm and secure as much as $130 per year in their net metering credit value.”

A “typical” residential customer uses no more than 1,000 kilowatts of electricity per month, according to the website.

Subscribers to the community solar program accumulate metering credits, which are based on the size of the subscription and the amount of energy produced by the solar project associated with the community.

Each month those credits are applied to a customer’s ComEd bill and then subscribers are charged 80 percent of that amount, resulting in a 20-percent net metering credit. The revenue goes toward the construction of additional solar projects.

There are no upfront costs to become a subscriber and there are no long-term contracts. However, there is a limit to the number of subscribers who can initially participate, and applications will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

The program will open up to more customers as more solar projects are built. Participating in a community solar program is an opportunity for residents and business owners who may not have the ability to install their own solar energy systems to support expansion of renewable energy alternatives.

With the village board’s Feb. 8 action, Brookfield will become the local CS2 sponsor for electricity customers here.

Michael Schwarz, Brookfield’s community and economic development director, said he and his staff are scheduled to meet with the CS2 program manager this week to walk through the steps needed to get the program up and running.

Once the program is ready to accept subscriptions, the village will announce details on their social media platforms and website.