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Published on December 18th, 2012 | by Adam Johnston

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Community Solar Bill Reintroduced In California

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December 18th, 2012 by
 
 
Last week, Senator Lois Walk re-introduced the shared renewable energy self-generation bill, SB43, which could help to advance community solar projects within California.

Despite strong backing from consumer groups, environmental groups, one of the top three utilities in the state, and the Department of Defense, the original bill (SB443) did not pass. However, with this new bill, it could become easier for community solar-based programs to get off the ground by reducing much red tape (for financing along with other matters), as noted in bill below:

(i) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation establishing a shared renewable energy self-generation program that will be implemented in such a manner as to broaden access to self-generation of renewable energy, while fairly compensating electrical corporations for the services they provide.

(j) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would require the Public Utilities Commission to carefully consider regulatory barriers to distributed generation projects already identified and those not yet identified and quickly address those barriers in a manner that is conducive to the development of distributed generation projects consistent with appropriate ratepayer protections.

(k) It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would require the commission to minimize the rate impact of a shared renewable energy self-generation program on nonbeneficiaries, with a goal of ratepayer indifference. To the extent that a program would impose incremental increases in rates, it is the intent that the commission ensure that the cost increases are equitably allocated to all customers on a nonbypassable basis reflecting both the costs and benefits that shared renewable energy facilities provide to the residents of California.

If this bill were to pass this time, with these restrictions being lifted, crowdfunding for solar projects could really take off in California. And crowdfunding groups, like Solar Mosiac, could significantly help boost solar energy in low- and middle-income neighborhoods.

Dan Rosen, co-founder of Solar Mosaic, said recently in a San Francisco Bay Guardian article that the crowdfunding movement will help to democratize the financing vital to push entrepreneurial ideas like Solar Mosaic forward.

“Our job — not just as Mosaic, but as society — is to make sure that the next energy economy has participation and ownership from millions of people and communities around the world,” Rosen said.

Thanks to their creative financing arrangements, the enterprise has been successful by raising $350,000 from 400 investors for five projects.

Given the potential of solar, as Bill Clinton said, it is the low hanging fruit for US companies when it comes to job creation. It would make very good sense to amend laws, such as bill SB43, to boost California’s clean energy economy while raising the living standards of its citizens.

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About the Author

Is currently studying at the School of the Environment Professional Development program in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto. Adam graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Adam also writes for Solar Love and also owns his own part time tax preparation business. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst, and is currently sharpening his skills as a renewable energy writer. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com.



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