Posted by· September 11, 2014 5:28 PM
Posted by· December 20, 2013 5:36 PM
Posted by· November 12, 2013 8:32 AM
By Subin Varghese, Community Renewable Energy Director
Step 1. Start now.
Don’t wait. That's rule #1 for living in a world where we're already feeling the impacts of climate change; millions of lives and livelihoods are at risk -- or stand to benefit from solutions -- in this and future decades. We needed a just transition of our energy economy yesterday. And while there are challenges to universal access and equitably shared benefits from clean energy, there are steps we can take today to start building projects, jobs, and improved health in local communities.
Community Renewable Energy
As society tackles climate change and builds alternatives to the fossil fuel industry, we have an opportunity to do so in a way that shares the economic benefits equitably and avoids re-creating a two-tiered society where wealthier people own all the energy infrastructure and everyone else is dependent on buying energy from them.
Community-ownership of renewable energy enterprises is critical to a rapid and equitable transition away from fossil fuels.
Our Community Renewable Energy Program is focused on breaking down legal barriers to community-owned renewable energy. We're using the following strategies:
Policy Advocacy: Building Coalitions to Change Laws
Working with partners to advance local, state, and federal policies that promote community energy.
Education: Mapping the Regulatory Terrain
Researching, writing, teaching, and providing direct legal services to navigate the regulatory landscape for community energy.
Legal Advice: Developing Legal Structures
Documenting, designing, and implementing legal, governance, and financial structures for community energy projects.
- Our focus is piloting the Permanent Community Energy Cooperative -- a legal model and approach for scaling renewable energy development that accelerates an equitable transition to renewables by enabling widespread grassroots crowd-financing of new energy projects designed for long-term community ownership and control.
Want more information about our community renewable energy work?
Developing Legal Structures
While community solar projects are popping up in a few friendly markets around the country, so far no existing model appears to be particularly replicable or scalable for most of the country. That's why we are not only taking inventory of current projects but also designing and implementing new legal, governance, and financial structures for community energy projects.
Existing community energy models often benefit from unique regulatory environments, financing opportunities, wealth of higher income communities, or institutional support that may not be available to most communities. Still, these projects offer valuable experience to learn from and promising elements to be considered, given that they each have had to overcome their own set of challenges.
Building on these examples, we are developing a model that is 1) implementable in a wide variety of contexts, 2) adaptable to the uncertain future of energy regulation, and 3) designed to ensure long-term community control and benefit.
Permanent Community Energy Cooperative
The Permanent Community Energy Cooperative (PCEC) is a legal model and approach for scaling renewable energy development that accelerates an equitable transition to renewables by enabling widespread grassroots crowd-financing of new energy projects designed for long-term community ownership and control.
The Sustainable Economies Law Center is working to research, develop, and incubate a pilot PCEC of climate and next economy workers in the Bay Area -- with the long term goal of developing resources for others to replicate the model. (We're thinking of calling the pilot cooperative "Solar Scouts," like girl scouts for grown-ups! You'd even earn solar scout badges as you create a solar energy project in your community.)
Our PCEC pilot incubation project is organized in two stages: Business Development and Site Development:
- Business Development: research and develop the business plan and legal structure of a pilot PCEC, conduct community engagement and market research to create communications about the model, and initiate a plan to finance the pilot (Completion Goal: Summer 2018)
- Site Development: support the formation of a separate standalone cooperative entity and the construction of its first renewable energy system (Completion Goal: 2018 year-end)
Based on our research of existing models and legal barriers, we've come up with an energy development and ownership concept called the Permanent Community Energy Cooperative (PCEC), a scalable model that gives communities permanent access to and control over their power.
Read more here.
☀ Walk-in legal advice clinics for community groups
☀ Training a new generation of lawyers to provide support to community renewable projects
Future Legal Services:
☀ 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.
By Subin Varghese, Community Renewable Energy Director
What if you could use your consumer power and investment dollars to drive a fast and equitable transition to renewables? That’s part of the potential of community-owned renewable energy: to expand opportunities for ordinary citizens to put their money toward community-controlled energy facilities that share not just electricity among community members, but the economic benefits of the enterprise as well.Read more
A message from our Executive Director, Janelle Orsi:
Lately, this big word has been stuck in my head:
Three things are happening right NOW that are creating a sense of urgency at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Sometimes, it's hard to see that they are happening, so we thought some visuals might help...Read more
On Sunday, January 25th, the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Janelle Orsi and Ricardo Nuñez were interviewed by CBS' Bay Area Focus! They spoke about the work SELC does and why legal resources are needed in every community to support the creation of cooperatives, renewable energy, shared housing and transportation, and more! Watch the video below!Read more
On August 30, a bill that would have upended the ability of California communities to choose their electrical power sources was defeated in the state senate. AB 2145 was rejected thanks in large part to the outpour of grassroots opposition by a coalition of local governments, elected officials, and nonprofits like the Sustainable Economies Law Center, who pegged the bill as a power grab by utility companies.Read more
So there we were, on the brink of changing the world, and we still hadn't found a name for what we were doing! The sharing economy? The community resilience movement? The cooperative economy? The new economy?
Well, at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, our extensive and intensive research has finally uncovered a more precise phrase: The Beatles Economy! Yeah, Beatles. As in The Beatles, who managed to present a comprehensive vision for a better world...in their song titles. Check out our video to learn more!