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The Permanent Community Energy Cooperative is a model for scaling renewable energy development that accelerates an equitable transition to renewables by enabling widespread grassroots crowd-financing and community-led development of new energy projects designed for long-term community ownership and control. It's a model designed to involve everyone, including you!
UPDATE: We are working to incubate the first PCEC, called People Power Solar Cooperative, with the long term goal of creating resources for others to replicate the model. A new website for People Power Solar Co-op is coming soon!
The PCEC model has three awesome qualities:
Our Community: Everyday people can get involved, have fun, and make friends while creating new solar projects! That's because each solar project will be spearheaded by a small group. That group will do the fun stuff: choose a site, get the community excited about it, and help raise money by urging the community to buy shares. The cooperative staff will handle the dry technical stuff and long-term management of the solar.
Our Money: Everyday people can invest! We can each take $1,000 out of Wall Street and big banks, put it in local solar, and get our money back later. Saving our money while saving the planet!
Our Power: The community will own and control the energy in the long term. This is important for reasons of economic justice, community resilience, and disaster preparedness. Our society faces the risk that large corporations and wealthy people will end up owning all the power, so we need to create vehicles for permanent community ownership now. The PCEC will grow to own a lot of solar projects and have a large membership base that will democratically decide how that energy is used. Power to the people!
The model enables anyone in the community to buy a share for up to $1,000, so that everyone can drive the switch to renewables. It focuses on building or tapping into social groups to combine the otherwise dry, technical nature of project development with the fun and camaraderie of social events. Ultimately, as it scales, the PCEC will drive the creation of good jobs and build the movement for a rapid and just renewables transition.
How can you get involved?
Sign up for updates: Sign up below to stay up to date!
Indicate interest in becoming a PCEC member: In the sheet below, check the box if you are interested in one day being a member of a cooperative like this once it is accepting members, by purchasing a share for up to $1,000.
Indicate interest in collaborating as a property owner: Check the box below if you own a home, building, or land that you think would be a great site for community-owned solar. Learn more here about what it might look like to build community power on your roof.
If you have questions or would like to be involved in the pilot, email Crystal Huang at email@example.com or Subin DeVar at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For background, see this blog post of the original concept (Apr. 2017).
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By Subin Varghese for P2P Foundation
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.Read more
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.
Energy is such a basic and important necessity that everyone should affordably access, own, and control their own clean energy -- that's why we need Energy Democracy:
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 incubating a 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 model 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 with the long term goal of developing resources for others to replicate the model. >> Read more about piloting the PCEC.
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.
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