Shared Renewables Bills Moving Forward In California

A lot of people can go solar today and get a very good return on their investment, while also feeling great that they are doing something to help protect our climate, air, and water. However, many people cannot. Have a roof covered by trees? Rent your home? Live in an apartment building? You know know what I’m talking about.

California is no exemption to this problem, and with its strong and successful California Solar Initiative (CSI) sunsetting, renewable energy leaders in the state have been looking to jump to the next step of the solar revolution by making solar power (and wind power) a possibility for people in homes like those mentioned above. The effort to offer such an option is running under the name “Shared Renewables.”

As you can see on the interactive map on the Shared Renewables site, not many states have shared renewables laws in place, and just a handful have campaigns in place to try to enact such laws. Naturally, though, California has one law in place and has a campaign aimed at getting a much stronger one. The website for the campaign is called California Shared Renewables.

I’m not a resident of California, but I’ve been keeping up with the news there, and I’ve got some good news to share with you.

But wait, I still need to give you a little more background…. There are two bills working their way through California’s legislative process — SB 43 and AB 1014. In the end, presuming both make it through the various hurdles required, a single proposal will be hashed out. For now, though, the two bills have to take things one step at a time.

From a previous article about these bills, Silvio Marcacci writes:

If passed, SB 43 and AB 104 would allow the 75% of California utility customers who can’t install their own on-site generation to subscribe to “shared” renewable energy projects of up to 20 megawatts (MW).

Advocates say a 500MW shared renewables pilot program within the state’s three largest utility service territories would create 7,000 green jobs, earn $60 million in state sales tax revenue, generate $2 billion in economic activity, and voluntarily surpass the state’s 33% renewable portfolio standard.

A lot more details regarding the benefits of shared renewables are discussed in that post, if you want to learn more. But let’s get back to the news at hand….

This week, AB 1014 “passed though the Assembly Utility and Commerce Committee on a vote of 9-0, with no opposing testimony” (but with some significant amendments made beforehand), California Shared Renewables Policy and Market Strategies Director Tom Price informed me. Tom noted:

This is tremendously positive news. While it’s not the bill we started with, it does help us advance the goal of broadening access to renewable energy.

As an indication of the sweeping changes, and how that effected the politics, PGE asked to be the second speaker on the bill, so they could speak in favor.

The bodies speaking out in favor of the bill included:

  • Coalition for Adequate School Housing
  • US Department of Defense
  • Sonoma County Board of Supervisors
  • Vote Solar
  • Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Large Scale Solar Association
  • TURN
  • Scott Wetch/Utilities Employees Union
  • Southern California Edison



The day after this success, SB 43 also made it through a vote, this one in the California Senate Energy Committee. Vote and testimonial details are below.

Votes in favor:

  • Hill
  • DeSaulnier
  • Pavley
  • De Leon
  • Wolk
  • Corbett

Testimony in favor from:

  • California Environmental Justice Alliance
  • Vote Solar
  • League of Cities
  • Department of Defense
  • Coalition for Affordable School Housing
  • Schools Energy Coalition
  • Recurrent Energy
  • Solar Electric Industry Association
  • Large Scale Solar Association

Testimony against from:

  • Southern California Edison
  • PG&E
  • SDGE
  • TURN
  • Farm Bureau
  • Coalition of California Union Employees

“It was close, but we got the votes when it counted,” Tom noted.

“With both AB 1014 and SB 43 passed, we now have two ways to broaden the availability of renewable energy in California, and thanks to your support and help, we’ll get there.”

As stated above, each bill still has several hurdles to get past: “they need to then get through their respective Appropriations Committees, then full chambers, then pass over to the other side and go through the opposite chamber.”

The keys now are to fight for the most important details in each bill and to make more people aware of what’s going on in order to stimulate more public support for the proposals. Hence, this article.

We’ll be following up soon with discussion regarding the differences between the bills and the most important components. Stay tuned!

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