By Lin Smith
July 28, 2013—California’s SB 43, also known as the “shared solar bill,” is a move in the right direction towards solving our global warming crisis. Over 70% of Californians can’t participate in clean energy programs because they are renters, their homes don’t recieve enough sunlight, or they lack the credit to make the initial installment of solar panels. A survey shows that 3 out of 4 people would opt for renewables if given the choice–and California is in the process of leading our nation in giving folks that chance!
Households which lack renewable options currently pay their utility companies for clean energy programs they don’t benefit from. SB 43 provides each California citizen an opportunity to buy renewables, with 20% of the renewables set aside for areas designated low income with poor environmental conditions. Stela Cervas, with the California Environmental Justice Alliance, states,”The communities I work in suffer alarming rates of premature death, asthma, lost work days, and respiratory related absences. We need to direct more local renewable energy into low-income communities that are impacted from climate change, while creating sustainable long-term clean energy careers in these communities. SB 43 begins to address this green divide by giving low-income communities access to green energy,”–and jobs!
The bill will allow for the purchase of renewables to take many different forms, such as a school campus might get its power from another school’s on-site solar units or a community might get their energy from solar panels on a church roof. The buying and selling of renewable energy will look different from community to community, as the customer will subscribe to the service of their choice and will recieve up to 100% payment from the utility company on their monthly bills towards those renewables. The bill applies to all renewables, such as solar panels, windmills, or other off-site renewable energy facilities.
SB 43 has passed the California Assembly and the Commerce Committee and will move on to the Appropriations Committee when the legislature resumes in August. It reportedly has the support of Gov. Jerry Brown and is slated to go into effect in June 2014.
If the saying is true “as California goes, so goes the rest of the country,” then the United States can be a world leader in solving our major global problem—warming of our planet! Good luck, California!
- Clean Energy For All: California Advances Pioneering Shared Renewables Bill (resilience.org)
- California Shared Renewables Bill Poised for Success (cleantechies.com)
- Solar Energy: The New Gold Rush? (theenergycollective.com)