California Approves Community Solar under 2019 Residential PV Mandate

Source: Walmart/Flickr
Thin film solar panels on top of a roof in Mountain View, California

Last week, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved a community solar project under the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which require the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on new single-family and low-rise residential homes. CEC’s decision enables housing developers in Sacramento to meet the requirement through buying off-site solar energy, or community solar, through the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Neighborhood SolarShares Program.

“Community solar was built into the Energy Code to provide flexibility in satisfying the solar requirement,” noted Commissioner Andrew McAllister, NASEO Board Chair, according to an agency press release. “We expected that the marketplace and stakeholders would find solutions appropriate for their communities.”

There are six categorical conditions that community solar programs like SMUD’s must meet: energy performance; enforcement; dedicated energy savings; durability; additionality; and accountability and recordkeeping.

Customers connected to the SMUD program will sign 20-year contracts that will guarantee them savings of $10 per kilowatt for every year they are involved. By 2023, the Program expects to install 270 new megawatts of utility-scale solar, and in the next decade, become 80 percent carbon-free.

“Climate change is an all-hands-on-deck situation,” SMUD board member Brandon Rose says. “We recognize all options need to be on the table.”