Momentum for development of community solar programs nationwide is growing, aided by the release of new resources from the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), a national coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand access to solar for all. With programs in 17 states and hundreds of local utilities, community solar can play a critical role in the national transition to a cleaner, more resilient, job-creating distributed energy system. CCSA is today releasing new model state legislation for community solar and an updated Policy Decision Matrix to guide policymakers in designing community solar programs tailored to their state. CCSA also partnered with Vote Solar to host the first ever Community Solar Bootcamp this month, and announced the hiring of a new full-time Policy Director, supporting the organization’s expanded efforts to accelerate community solar access across the country.
“Community solar is one of the most promising sectors of the national clean energy industry, but we need consistent policies and regulations to ensure the industry can grow at the pace needed to meet consumer demand nationwide,” explained CCSA executive director Jeff Cramer. “These new policy resources, alongside the growing coalition of businesses, non-profits, community groups, and customers working to expand access to solar, offer policymakers a clear roadmap to developing successful community solar programs in their states.”
The new model legislation is presented in two versions, one for competitive electricity markets and one for vertically integrated utility markets. Based on CCSA’s Core Principles, the model legislation represents proven successful and sensible community solar policy based on lessons learned from states across the country. Visit the CCSA website Resources page to download copies of the model legislation.
Updates to this second version of the Policy Matrix include lessons learned from market developments from the past year, as well as more detailed program design recommendations in key areas such as program size, compensation, customer participation, and low to moderate income participation. An updated copy of the matrix can be found on the CCSA Resources page.
Community Solar Boot Camp
CCSA joined Vote Solar and a number of national and regional solar advocates for the first-ever Community Solar Boot Camp in Philadelphia from December 12-13, 2017. The event brought together industry, nonprofits, and advocates who are or will soon be engaged in legislative and regulatory community solar efforts across the region. Presenters at the event shared perspectives on how community solar can help consumers – including renters, homeowners, schools, businesses, and local governments looking to reduce their electric bills – and optimal program designs to jumpstart community solar growth in new states. CCSA will support Vote Solar’s ongoing efforts to conduct these events in other regions of the country as interest in community solar from local communities and states continues to grow nationwide.
“We believe that every American family and business should be able to go solar and save, whether those panels are on their own roof or around the corner. Community solar is ready to deliver on that promise for renters and millions of other energy consumers, and that's why we are working with local advocates and policymakers to advance community solar legislation in at least eight states. CCSA’s new guide provides a roadmap of good policy design so that solar can shine for everyone in all 50 states," said Marta Tomic, community solar program director for Vote Solar.
"We applaud CCSA for their work to help people and companies access the transformative potential of community solar energy," said J.R. Tolbert, VP for State Policy at national business group, Advanced Energy Economy. "This initiative is one of many ways to break down barriers to secure, clean and affordable energy in communities across the nation."
New policy director
CCSA’s new Policy Director is Brandon Smithwood. Brandon comes to CCSA from the national Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) where he serves as Director of California State Affairs, managing legislative and regulatory activity in the state. Before joining SEIA in 2015, Brandon worked for CERES, the Conservation Services Group and the California Energy Efficiency Industry Council. He has degrees from Colby College and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and is based in Boston. At CCSA, Brandon will lead CCSA’s policy activities in opening, protecting, and serving markets for community solar across the country.
“We hear from states and communities nationwide that they want to find ways to offer their residents and businesses safer, cleaner, more reliable energy and save money at the same time. Community solar is the solution," said Hannah Muller, CCSA Board Chair. “CCSA’s growth over the past year is a testament to the immense interest in community solar and the hard work of our member companies and staff to make community solar available to all Americans. We’re excited to expand our team and open more new markets in 2018.”