Senate bill would boost community solar projects

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation last week requiring the Department of Energy to support community solar projects.

The “Community Solar Consumer Choice Act” would establish a DOE program that works with states and local governments on community solar, particularly in low-income communities. The bill requires the national labs to collect data helpful to businesses making solar financing decisions, and urges federal agencies to participate in community solar initiatives.

Community solar refers to projects that typically are owned by multiple people, such as a shared system on a neighborhood block. It aims to provide solar access to the half of U.S. households and businesses that can’t host their own systems, because either the occupants are renters or the architecture can’t fit panels.

Colorado was “the first state to pass legislation on community solar, and in just a few years, we have installed enough community solar to power thousands of homes across our state,” Bennet said in a statement.

The bill is supported by several clean energy groups, including the Solar Energy Industries Association.