The Sustainable Economies Law Center's Community Renewable Energy Program works to facilitate collective ownership of community renewable energy projects by advocating for laws and regulations, educating the public, providing legal services, and building coalitions.
Key program objectives include:
- Engagement of community members as planners, decision-makers, and owners;
- Expanding access to a diverse group of consumers;
- Using locally based assets, keeping money local, and creating local green jobs;
- Lowering energy costs and providing a return on investment; and
- Minimizing environmental impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Elements of community renewable energy projects include:
- Electricity generated by a renewable energy system that can “island” off the grid;
- Ownership by a community;
- Financing from community members;
- Collective management and control of the facility and associated jobs;
- Promotion of economic resilience from lower electric bills, net metering credits, and a return on investment, as well energy resilience in the event of climate-related grid outages.
What we’re delving into:
Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy
- Current: Securities law reform ☀ Intervention in regulatory proceedings ☀ Utility-managed shared renewables
- Planned: Virtual net metering ☀ Community Choice Aggregation ☀Tax incentives ☀Incubating a 501(c)(4) policy advocacy center
Education and Communication
- Current: Profiling legal frameworks for energy ownership, governance, and financing ☀ Creating a lexicon of legal models for community renewable energy
- Planned: Drafting model legal documents for communities ☀Creating cartoons and videos about community energy models ☀ Publishing Plain-English legal guides
- Current: Walk-in legal advice clinics for community groups ☀ Training a new generation of lawyers to provide support to community renewable projects
- Planned: Providing full legal representation to model organizations ☀ Securities law compliance for renewable financing projects ☀ Worker-ownership of clean energy jobs ☀ Cooperative conversions ☀ Incubating new law centers across the U.S.
Coalition and Movement Building
- Current: Teach-Ins, discussions, and community workshops ☀ East Bay Clean Power Alliance ☀ Oakland Climate Action Coalition
Why are we enthusiastically promoting renewable energy cooperatives?
Cooperatives are helping to reawaken an ancient wisdom about living together in community, building community wellbeing, and supporting resilient local economies – principles largely lost in today’s large corporate economy. We believe that renewable energy cooperatives should be an integral part of the grassroots sharing economy. Rural energy cooperatives have been around for many years. It is time to make this option more readily available to diverse communities in urban areas to enable the transition to clean energy and resilient local economies.