January 19th General Meeting - Community Solar Gardens II

About 25 people gathered on Thursday, January 19 at the monthly meeting of the Local Clean Energy Alliance (LCEA) to discuss the report of a small task force assembled by the LCEA to evaluate the potential of SB 843 (the Community-Based Renewale Energy Self-Generation Program) for promoting community solar gardens. The Preliminary Analysis can be found here.

Rosana Francescato of the task force spoke about her efforts to solarize the condo complex in which she lives and her interest in SB 843 to help such communities benefit from shared solar PV facilities. She explained how the task force characterized "community solar gardens," and described how SB 843 was intended to extend the benefits of net metering to people who do not have rooftops on which to install solar panels. June Brashares, another member of the task force, talked about how SB 843, as written, would result in larger scale solar PV facilities (greater than 1 MW) and discussed changes that would be needed in the bill for it to promote our vision of community solar gardens.

The discussion that followed revolved around a couple of themes. One concerned the pricing of credits for shares of energy from a solar PV facility. There is concern among the sponsors of the bill that the valuation of these credits is too low and does not account for the true value of the energy produced by a solar PV facility. Raising the value of the credits would make it easier for smaller community solar gardens to be economically viable, however, there is also a concern that higher priced electricity credits would negatively impact ratepayers who are not subscribers to shared solar PV facilities. The language of SB 843is being amended to improve energy credit values before the bill is re-introduced in the legislature in June.

Another theme of the discussion revolved around the importance of any new program supporting the development of community solar gardens as we understand them, whether there are other programs in place that might do a better job of promoting
community solar gardens, and whether SB 843 might compete with such programs. In that respect, there was some discussion of feed-in tariff programs as a possible alternative and their status in California. Also, there was discussion urging that the bill be broadened to cover more hybrid technology facilities that would integrate wind, solar, biodigester, storage, and other renewable technologies.

Moving forward from here, the LCEA will be engaged in the process to amend SB 843 before taking a final position on the bill. Many thanks to members of the task force: Rosana Francescato, June Brashares, Aaron Melgar, Jim Rothstein, Reede Stockton, Kirsten Schwind, and Al Weinrub.

PDF icon SB 843 PreliminaryAnalysis4.pdf224.3 KB