Press Release – Fate of California’s Community Solar Plan, Primary Clean Energy Option for the Majority of Californians, to Be Determined in Coming Weeks
Stakeholders Meet Ahead of IRA Funding Deadline & Public Utility Commission’s Issuance of Community Solar and Storage Decision
OAKLAND, Calif. (September 26, 2023) – Today, a year after California Governor Newsom signed California’s community solar and storage bill, AB 2316, into law, Vote Solar held a stakeholder briefing on the state of community solar and environmental justice in California with representatives from the diverse coalition that got the bill passed last year: the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), California Green New Deal Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and The Utility Reform Network (TURN).
“With no functional community solar plan in place, there is a real chance that California could miss out on a critical program to create solar for all,” according to CCSA’s Derek Chernow.
Despite generating the most solar energy in the country, 44 percent of California residents – primarily renters and impacted communities – cannot currently access clean solar energy due to the lack of a functioning community solar program in the state. Without a real community solar and storage program, the state risks losing up to $30 billion in state and federal incentives, including from the Inflation Reduction Act, that would allow more than 2 million people access to affordable, renewable, reliable power.
“This is a huge opportunity for the state. There is now the opportunity to make real progress and we’re calling on the PUC and the state leadership to really move this forward in an expedited way” said NRDC’s Merrian Borgeson.
50 U.S. states and territories have already shown interest in the competitive, $7 billion Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Solar For All fund. While other states competing for the federal funds including New York and Massachusetts have active and robust community solar programs, California is last in terms of subscribers and success.
“Renters and low-income communities suffer the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and are largely locked out of the paths to benefit from our clean energy transition,” said CEJA’s Alexis Sutterman. “Right now, California has a major opportunity to change that.”
“We’re running a real risk that the clean energy future will not be equitable,” said California Green New Deal Coalition’s Zach Lou.
“In our view, California needs a viable community energy program. It’s long overdue. The existing voluntary subscription services offered by private utility companies are failing,” said TURN’s Matt Freedman.
With only a few weeks until the October 12 application deadline for key Solar For All funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the speakers called on the California Public Utilities Community (CPUC) and the Governor’s office to act quickly to finalize a scalable community solar program and submit strong funding recommendations to the Environmental Protection Agency.
“As the world faces an imminent energy transition, community solar, with battery storage, offers the most scalable near-term renewable energy solution to enhance grid reliability and supply clean energy to residents across California,” said Vote Solar’s Emerald Sage.
To review a recording of this briefing, please click here.
About Vote Solar
Vote Solar is an energy justice non-profit working towards a 100% clean energy future by bringing solar to the mainstream. Founded in 2002, Vote Solar advocates for clean energy in legislative and regulatory arenas at the state level, where most decisions about electricity are made. Despite powerful opposition, we use a winning combination of deep policy expertise, coalition building, and public engagement to get the job done.
Emily Samsel, Boundary Stone Partners
Emerald Sage, Vote Solar