2013 could be the year for shared solar in the United States. Subscription model solar projects using virtual net metering (VNM) are becoming a new industry sector. Thousands of homes and businesses otherwise constrained by shade or limited space can now receive credit on their electric bills for solar power through the grid.
After the rapid growth of solar gardens in Colorado with XCEL Energy's Solar*Rewards Community program, the idea has started to catch on with utilities and citizens groups across the country, and new legislation is being introduced. I had a chance to have a conversation with Hannah Masterjohn at the Vote Solar Initiative - we cobbled together a list of active legislation in different states. For most of these states (California, DC, Maryland, and Hawaii) this is the second attempt at community solar / VNM legislation - there is a steep learning curve for legislators and advocates alike. Some fine tuning has happened as well, as more experience is gained with the model.
California - Shared Renewable Energy Self-Generation Program, SB43 - Introduced in 2012 as SB843, this bill died in the last hours of the legislative session. The new version of the bill includes provisions for low-income individuals, requires a percentage of the subscribers to be in the same county as the solar garden, and has a carve-out for solar gardens less than 1MW in size.