California Advocates Commend Proposed Investments in Community Solar and Storage

$400 million allocation signals continued momentum for community solar and storage

Community solar advocates are applauding the California Senate Budget Committee for proposing a $400 million community solar and storage investment in the updated Budget and Fiscal Review, released on May 25th, 2023. 

Earlier this week, a coalition of environmental and environmental justice advocates submitted a letter to legislative leadership, requesting the $400 million appropriation from Clean Energy Reliability Investment Plan (CERIP) funding. The groups specifically urged the legislature to fund projects that deliver bill savings for low-income customers and increase local reliability in low-income and marginalized communities. 

Community solar and storage expands access to affordable solar by allowing all utility customers —regardless of housing type — to subscribe to a solar array and receive direct credits off their utility bills  for renewable energy generated. Last September, California passed the landmark Assembly Bill 2316, which opened a process to create a community solar and storage program and requires 51% of program capacity to serve low-income customers. Solar and equity advocates celebrated the bill’s potential to accelerate the state’s clean energy transition, while bringing financial relief to those struggling with disproportionately high energy bills and utility debt. While the program is currently being debated and designed at the California Public Utilities Commission, advocates are requesting state funding to support enhanced equity benefits of any new community solar and storage program and make California more competitive for securing funding from the $7 billion “Solar for All” pot exclusively earmarked for expanding solar access for low-income and disadvantaged communities.

“The $400 million funding will help us build on the enormous potential of AB 2316, bringing affordable solar and storage within reach for many more California families,” says Stephanie Doyle, California Regulatory Director for Vote Solar. “Thank you to the Senate Budget Committee for recognizing the need for bold investments in equitable and impactful clean energy solutions. This commitment will help California secure federal investments that can help expand access and benefits for more Californians.” 

Governor Newsom and the state assembly are currently considering their own “budget trailer bills,” which in California refers to bills that implement policies outlined in the state budget. The bills will be negotiated and final versions will be voted on before the legislative session ends in September.

“This proposed commitment from the Senate will go a long way in helping frontline communities to access clean energy. The Governor and the state assembly should follow their lead and champion environmental justice by approving a $400 million appropriation from the CERIP funding for community solar and storage,” says Alexis Sutterman, Energy Equity Program Manager at the California Environmental Justice Alliance. “California is far behind other states in community solar and storage when it should be leading. Community solar and storage is a critical pathway to reliably retire polluting peaker gas plants and bring bill savings and improved air quality to low-income and environmental justice communities.”

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