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Community Solar is Back - This Time with Gusto!

04/26/13

  08:42:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 454 words  
Categories: Solar News, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Community Solar

Community Solar is Back - This Time with Gusto!

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Community solar - which would allow folks without usable roof space of their own to go solar - has been revived in Sacramento and is now moving through the sausage factory that is the State Legislature. If the solar industry cares to see it emerge intact, the time is now to get on board!

We wrote last year about the failed struggle to pass SB 843, the community solar bill which died under attack from the utilities.  Now the coalition that pushed last year for that legislation is back with two new bills: SB 43 (Wolk) and AB 1014 (Williams).  From the bill summaries:

While rooftop solar is a strong and growing business in California, at least 75% of households cannot participate because: (1) they are renters and don’t own their roofs (44% of households); (2) they do not have strong enough credit ratings to finance the installation (28-31% of households); or (3) their roof is too small or doesn’t receive enough sunlight (no estimate available). In addition, most businesses rent or lease their facilities and do not own their own roofs.

A Shared Renewables program allows all these California households and businesses to voluntarily subscribe to up to 100% renewable power from a shared facility in their utility’s territory and receive a credit on their current utility bill. SB 43 and AB 1014 are not limited to solar but rather apply to any new renewable facility up to 20 megawatts (MW) in size, for a program total of 500 MW (or 1000 MW in AB 1014).

While the technologies eligible under the Shared Renewables program are the same as those eligible under the Renewable Portfolio Standard, the resulting Renewable Energy Credits are given to the subscribers and retired for them. Projects accepted into other concurrent programs, such as the Reverse Auction Mechanism, the ReMAT Feed In Tariff, or utility-owned solar programs, are not eligible for the program. Finally, the bill asks publicly-owned utilities to consider implementing a similar program.

While we have some concerns about the present form of the legislation - particularly in that there doesn’t appear to be any carve outs to support smaller projects and smaller companies - the intent is important for broadening the base of solar customers in California.

That’s where you come in.  Our friends over at Vote Solar have a sign-up campaign ongoing - you can participate by clicking here - and they need your support.  If you are in the solar industry - and we know lots of you read this blog - it is imperative that you get behind this legislation.  If you are a renter or a homeowner with a heavily shaded roof, this legislation is your chance to vote with your pocketbook for a cleaner, sustainable future.  So please, take a moment and add your voice to the call for community solar - this time with Gusto!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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