Community Renewable Energy Sparks in California

Legislation introduced in the California Senate would enable community renewable energy systems for customers of the state’s major utilities: PG&E, SCE and SDG&E.

Customers – homes, businesses, schools and public agencies – that choose to participate would receive credit on their utility bills for their portion of the clean power generated, much as if those systems were located on site.

The Wolk Community Shared Solar Bill (SB 843), sponsored by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), would create 12,000 local jobs, and $7.5 billion in economic activity by expanding access to the state’s renewable energy market, says Vote Solar, which analyzed the plan.

Clean energy is one of the fastest growing sectors of California’s economy, yet three out of four energy customers – including the state’s millions of renters – can’t generate their own on-site power from solar, wind and other renewables.

Without requiring any public funding, the bill is expected to deploy 2 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity, equivalent to 4 conventional fossil fuel power plants and about double the amount of rooftop solar currently installed in the state.

"In very real terms, SB 843 would be the job creation equivalent of one of California’s largest employers, putting more people to work in the state than Cisco or Applied Materials," says Hannah Masterjohn, Policy Advocate at Vote Solar. "By simply enabling more Californians to invest in and receive the benefits of renewable energy systems, the state can unleash tremendous economic activity without using any precious state funds."

Specifically, SB 843 would deliver:

— At least 12,000 direct and induced local jobs. It would create thousands of construction-related jobs each year, in addition to long term operations and maintenance jobs. These are high quality local employment opportunities across a broad range of education requirements, salary levels and fields.

— $230 million in state tax revenues through sales taxes on renewable energy systems.

— $7.5 billion in total economic output. This includes wages, salaries and revenues that can be reinvested into the state economy.

Download the report.

Here’s the SB 843 campaign website.

San Diego Forming Electricity Coop

Another community effort in California is a possible energy coop in San Diego.

The San Diego Energy District Foundation would create a local energy coop, enabling people to choose whether to purchase local green energy through Community Choice Aggregation or to continue receiving it from the utility.

Under Community Choice Aggregation, energy demand is pooled under a non-profit structure, giving members the ability to get bulk rates an an opportunity to accelerate local energy development.

San Diego’s plan is to prioritize electricity from customer-owned rooftop solar arrays to make sure members are the primary beneficiaries of increased renewable energy production.

"CCA is an off-the-shelf alternative to the status quo, which creates a structure open to innovation and local involvement in electricity generation," says Bill Powers, a co-founder of the San Diego Energy District Foundation.

Six states have authorized municipalities to use coops, and the option is in play in five of them.

If you’re in the area, The San Diego Energy District is hosting a conference on the subject, June 21, 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Here’s a guide to Community Solar and read Investing in Solar as a Community

Read more about Community Choice Aggregation in the US:

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