www.kcet.org - If you'd like to use electricity from rooftop solar but you don't own a rooftop to put it on, the California Assembly will soon be deciding whether or not to help you. This Monday a vote is scheduled on SB 843, which would allow renters, low-income Californians and others who can't install solar panels on their own property to buy shares in offsite solar facilities and share in the proceeds from power sales to utilities.
If enacted, SB 843 would let retail utility customers offset up to 100% of their monthly electric bills by participating in a shared solar array -- also known as a "solar garden." The California Senate passed the bill in 2011.
Community members are encouraged to express their support for sharing solar to legislators by signing a online petition.
“This is a game-changer,” said Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), the bill’s author. “By giving customers the ability to pool their resources and purchase power generated at larger energy facilities, SB843 will not only expand access to renewable energy to millions of Californians. It will allow these customers to take advantage of the cost savings that come from building one larger facility for a neighborhood or community, without spending any state funds or shifting costs to consumers who choose not to participate. The program established by the bill will also create thousands of jobs, encourage investment, and help our state reach its renewable energy goals.”
The bill could add 2 gigawatts to California’s renewable energy generation capacity, tripling the size of California's solar market and sharing the benefits of solar power with more participants through shared solar projects.
SB843 eliminates bureaucratic red-tape that has prevented consumers from accessing solar power unless they were physically connected to solar panel. Under current regulations, 75% of California’s residents and businesses can not install solar since they lack proper rooftop conditions or are renting their property.
The bill requires that the shared solar array be in the service area of the utility serving the customer.
If the bill passes the Assembly on Monday it will likely be signed by the governor, who has vowed to cut the red tape preventing more widespread adoption of solar.
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