On November 12, the Sustainable Economies Law Center became an official party to a proceeding at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Our intention is to help implement Senate Bill (SB) 43, the Green Tariff Shared Renewables Program, which was signed into law last month. SB 43 establishes a 600 MW pilot program – the largest distributed generation goal in the nation – and allows customers of California’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to subscribe to a shared renewable energy facility in their service territory and receive a credit in their monthly utility bill.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS.
SB 43 is a good step forward to increasing access to clean renewable energy for the 75 percent of households that are renters, have shaded roofs, or cannot afford financing a renewable energy system. It directs IOUs to locate renewable projects close to utility customers as possible, and also includes 100 MW from small projects (less than 1MW in size) located in disadvantaged communities. While SELC believes SB 43 contains important elements to achieve a more sustainable energy future, we are disappointed that this law does not specifically support programs that allow community-ownership of renewable energy. Furthermore, multiple directives in the law are vague and the CPUC and the IOUs will decide how to implement these programs.
This is why our participation is important. We hope to help establish how the utilities will support “enhanced community renewables programs” and allow arrangements between renewable energy cooperatives and community-owned systems and their green tariff customers. This proceeding presents an exciting opportunity to increase options for community-ownership so that California communities benefit from the most inclusive implementation of SB 43 possible.
CALIFORNIA MUST CATCH UP TO OTHER STATES.
The movement towards local, renewable energy power is sprouting up around the country. Several states, including Colorado, Washington, and recently, the District of Columbia, have enacted legislation that explicitly allows community members to collectively own their renewable energy systems. These laws are pushing IOUs to adjust their outdated business models and respond to customer demand for clean, locally owned renewable energy. SELC is participating in similar efforts in California, and will continue to advocate for increasing opportunities like those in other states for California communities.
MAKING ROOM FOR COMMUNITY RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE SHARING ECONOMY.
The impact of community renewable energy in the sharing economy can be significant. SELC seeks to help people remove legal, policy, and financial barriers to community-based and collectively owned renewable energy facilities. Our goal is to make community renewable energy an important component of the sharing economy. We envision communities that have access to local, clean energy that is democratic, decentralized, and community-controlled, and that supports the emergence of new sustainable, just, and resilient economies independent of polluting carbon-based fuels.
JOIN US IN OUR EFFORTS.
SELC wants to hear from community renewable energy enthusiasts around the state and the country. SELC’s motion for party status is here. If you would like to support SELC in this endeavor, please click here. To follow SELC’s participation in this proceeding and our related work, please follow us on our community renewable energy page.