Tag: "community solar"

05/01/13

  09:32:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 367 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Solar News, GWP, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Ranting

SB 43 Advances - Questions Loom for Community Solar Bills

SB 43 - the Community Solar bill authored by Democratic State Senator Lois Wolk - passed its first legislative hurdle yesterday but in doing so it highlighted potential trouble down the road.

The bill passed the Committee on a 6-4 vote but the combination of who voted Nay does not bode well.  Here’s the chart of how they voted:

Senate Energy Committee vote on SB43

First observation - the profile in courage award to Committee Vice Chair Jean Fuller for not voting on the bill at all.

Second observation - two Democrats voted against this bill: Roderick Wright (35th District) and the Chair of the Committee, Alex Padilla (20th District) - what is up with this?

Senator Wright’s district encompasses some decidedly working class neighborhoods in cities such as Compton, Hawthorne, Inglewood, San Pedro, Watts and Wilmington.  We reached Senator Wright this morning in his Sacramento office - he answered his own phone! - and he was very direct in his comments.  He called the measure a “stupid bill” and said he opposed it because of its cost-shifting to other rate payers and that its mandatory purchase and subscription provisions made the bill something he could not support.

We told him about potential clients that we see - like the Glendale woman we met yesterday who so very much wanted to add solar but simply had no viable space to do so - who could really benefit from such a bill.  Interestingly, he cited programs like Glendale’s “Green Energy” rate by which GWP customers could purchase “green energy” by paying a surcharge to GWP.  We say interestingly because presumably the renewable resources that GWP is using to satisfy that requirement have the same potential issues as those provided by a Community Solar provider - for example, the dispatchability of a resource is not dependent upon who owns the resource.

Our conversation touched on a number of subjects - the Senator was very generous with his time - and we came away with the sense that the while he is quite thoughtful on these issues, he will most likely not be an ally in the struggle to preserve net metering as we know it.

Senator Padilla’s office, on the other hand, did not answer when we called.  We will update this post if we hear back from him.

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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!

Vote Solar logo

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!

06/19/12

  05:41:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 645 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, SCE, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, SDG&E, Community Solar

Power to the People - Support SB 843! UPDATED x3!

UPDATE - 3 - The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 12-0 to send the Community Solar bill, SB843, to the Assembly floor for a vote.  Curiously, while all twelve Democrats on the Committee supported the bill, all five Republicans failed to even vote on the measure!  (Not exactly a profile in political courage.)  We will continue to keep you informed of the bill’s progress - since it was amended in the Assembly, it presumably must still be approved by the Senate even after the Assembly (hopefully) passes it on Monday - and the legislative session ends this month so this is in no way a done deal.


UPDATE - 2- SB843 is headed for a showdown hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Chaired by none other than Run on Sun favorite, Assemblymember Mike Gatto.  The folks over at Vote Solar have a webpage up where you can easily create a letter to your Assemblymember urging a Yes vote on the bill.  Please check it out!


UPDATE - SB843 has passed the State Senate and is now working its way through the Assembly where it was recently amended.  (The amendments appear benign.)  However, we have learned that SCE has come out in opposition to the bill for reasons that are not immediately clear (apart from the cynically obvious ones).  This means that your support is more critical than ever - please contact your State Assembly Member and urge their support for Community Solar!


Solar installations are sprouting up almost everywhere - and California leads the Nation with the most installed solar capacity. That’s the good news.  The bad news is that not everyone who would like to add solar, can.  Eco-minded renters, for example, are excluded - but so are homeowners who would love to put solar on their homes but have sites that are too shaded to be viable.  (Believe me, here in shady Pasadena we know all about that!)

Community solarSo what can be done?  How can we allow rooftop-challenged individuals - and businesses - to participate in the solar boom?  The answer is “virtual net metering” or “community solar."  Under such a program, a solar power system is built and individual utility customers - homeowners, renters, business owners - own a portion of the system’s output.  The solar system “sells” the power directly to the utility and the individual participants receive a credit on their bill in proportion to their share of the system’s output.

For example, let’s say a typical Pasadena homeowner needs a 7kW system to offset their usage whereas a renter needs 1.5kW and a local small business needs 20kW.  A solar developer builds a 200kW system (maybe on a warehouse roof) and could sell corresponding shares to 8 homeowners, 16 renters, and 6 small businesses.  Everyone gets what they need - with no concerns about local shading, or roof ownership, or even leaking roofs!

This fabulous innovation in how solar is deployed could really take the lid off solar installations and greatly expand the universe of people who could “go” solar - even if they couldn’t install solar.  Indeed, one study asserts that providing this innovation in California alone would create 12,000 jobs, generate $7.5 billion in economic activity and generate $235 million in sales tax revenue by 2019!  And it would do this without any additional public funding.

Talk about a win-win!

But we aren’t there yet.  There is a bill pending right now in Sacramento - SB 843 -  that would make this type of community solar legal amongst the State’s three investor owned utilities: PG&E, SCE and SDG&E.

And that’s where YOU come in.

You can show your support for this innovative program by contacting your legislator NOW and ask them to support the bill.  Our friends over at Vote Solar have made this very easy - just click on this link.  (If the link doesn’t work right away, please try again later - this is too important to miss out on adding your support.)

We will be tracking this legislation and will update you on its progress.

Help Save Rooftop Solar!

California Utilities are trying to kill rooftop solar on your home by gutting net metering - but you can stop them!
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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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