Newsom Signs California Community Solar Act Into Law

September 26, 2022 by Dan McCue
Newsom Signs California Community Solar Act Into Law
FILE - California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed into a law a new program intended to help low-income communities reap the benefits of solar power.

It has been estimated that nearly half of Californians who rent or have low or modest incomes do not currently have access to clean, renewable energy.

The law, AB 2316, seeks to remedy that by directing the California Public Utilities Commission to create a community renewable energy program that prioritizes access for renters, apartment dwellers, low-income households and others who cannot install on-site solar and storage.

The bill also requires the commission to support existing community solar programs and replace those that are not achieving their goals.

“Together with the Legislature, California is taking the most aggressive action on climate our nation has ever seen,” Newsom said in a statement after he signed the legislation, which was a component of the larger, $54 billion California Climate Commitment ratified by the state Senate earlier this month.

“That’s climate action done the California way — and we’re not only doubling down, we’re just getting started,” Newsom said.

According to the Coalition for Community Solar Access, community solar projects are typically smaller scale installations that are constructed on landfills, former industrial sites or private land. 

By signing up as a subscriber, customers save an average of 10% on their electric bills by receiving credits based on their share of the project’s generation. 

When paired with energy storage, community solar helps build grid reliability by providing clean power after sunset during peak hours of energy use.

The Biden administration recently launched a community solar pilot program to generate $1 billion in annual utility bill savings benefitting low- and middle-income households, and the Inflation Reduction Act includes billions of dollars in new incentives for states like California that are launching community solar programs with storage benefiting low-moderate income families and paying prevailing wages.

“By signing AB 2316, Newsom cemented California’s role leading the next wave of clean energy growth across the country,” said Derek Chernow, western regional director at the Coalition for Community Solar Access.

“It will make affordable and reliable clean energy available to millions of Californians who have been unfairly left behind in the clean energy transition,” Chernow said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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