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Expanding Access to Solar: Ward Bill Passes Senate Committee On Energy, Utilities and Communications

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO,CA) – California law requires renewable and zero-carbon energy resources supply 100% of electric retail sales to customers by 2045, but these goals can’t be achieved leaving renters and homeowners who can’t install solar panels on their homes behind. Assembly Bill 2316, introduced by Assemblymember Chris Ward, to establish a statewide community and solar storage program, passed the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications today. 

“This bill is about expanding Californians’ access to the benefits of solar energy, while staying on track with our green energy goals to combat the climate crisis,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward (D-San Diego). “As an added benefit, Californians who decide to participate will also save money on their monthly energy bills. AB 2316 will give builders options for meeting the state's ambitious energy code requirements. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Community solar projects are smaller-scale installations that allow multiple customers to subscribe and save money on their monthly energy bill. Many home and business owners are unable to install solar panels due to the cost or structural challenges, such as neighboring buildings or trees blocking the sun’s light. Roughly 45% of California households are renters who can’t install a solar system on their own. 

Californians who live in areas covered by privately-owned utilities like San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, or Pacific Gas & Electric would be eligible for the program. Customers can choose to not enroll, of course, but people who do sign up would be compensated based on the value of the renewable energy resource. Financial incentives would be available for low-income customers.

“California has failed to unleash community solar’s potential. Without this bill, existing programs will continue to fall short of California’s affordable and reliable clean energy needs,” said Charlie Coggeshall, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at the Coalition for Community Solar Access, sponsor of the bill. “This bill is a chance for California to take what other states have learned to create the nation’s most innovative and equitable community solar program.”