Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by BVN

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Low-income renters in the inner region can enjoy the benefits of solar energy. On Tuesday, the California State Legislature passed AB 2316, which creates a Community Renewable Energy program that will make solar energy projects more accessible across the state.

“AB 2316 is poised to be the most significant expansion of solar access to low- and middle-income communities in California history,” said Assemblymember Chris Ward. “It’s not just about equity, it’s also about building a community solar program that will improve the overall reliability of our electrical grid by ensuring that solar energy is delivered during peak hours of use.”

Community solar energy allows low-income residents to take advantage of reduced energy rates without purchasing solar panels for their homes.

“If state agencies move quickly to implement the program, we could see more than 800 megawatts of new community solar and storage projects built and serving nearly a quarter million California homes. in the summer of 2025,” said Susannah Churchill, Deputy Program Director for the West at the non-profit organization Vote Solar.

This has a positive effect on residents who live in apartment complexes or rent their homes and individuals who cannot afford solar panels. It will allow them to support clean energy and fight climate change while reducing their energy bills.

A key advantage that AB 2316 brings is that it requires at least 51% of the energy from new community solar power projects to serve low-income communities.

According to Susannah Churchill, Deputy Program Director for the West, at the non-profit organization Vote Solar, this is the highest requirement of any low-income solar panel project in the country.

“If state agencies act quickly to implement the program, we could see more than 800 megawatts of new community solar and storage projects built and serving nearly a quarter million California homes. in the summer of 2025,” Churchill said. “Because of that 51% requirement, at least 125,000 of those would be low-income households.”

This after being applauded by Gov. Gavin Newsom President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides additional bonus tax credits of 20% for affordable housing projects and 10% for projects in low-income communities.

This bill would also provide good-paying jobs for community members, with the modification that the owner of a community renewable energy facility must ensure that the minimum wage requirement is met by all contracts for the performance of work.

Reduced Bills

Another highlight of the bill is the requirement to build renewable battery storage for these solar projects. California experiences peak electricity usage between 4:00 and 9:00 pm. Battery storage units can provide power to customers at night and help reduce their electricity bills.

A house powered by solar energy. AB 2316 will positively affect residents who live in apartment complexes or rent their homes and individuals who cannot afford solar panels. [Source: www.flickr.com}

“California lawmakers want their state to remain on the cutting edge of clean energy by deploying it to build social equity during a changing climate,” said Derek Chernow, Western Regional Director at the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “If signed by Governor Newsom, AB 2316 creates the nation’s most equitable community solar plus storage program. As billions of federal dollars are invested in this proven technology to cut electrical bills for working families and prevent blackouts, the only choice for California is to lead. We urge Governor Newsom to sign this bill and unleash a vibrant new sector of the green economy geared to remove barriers to affordable clean power while putting Californians to work.”

Who qualifies as a “Low-income customer”?

  • An individual or household who qualifies for one or more of the following programs:
  • The California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program.
  • The Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program 
  • The CalFresh program 
  • The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) 
  • The Low-income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

What is classified as an underserved community?

  • Low-income community as defined in Section 39713 of the Health and Safety Code.
  • A community within an area identified as among the 25 percent most disadvantaged areas in the state according to the California Environmental Protection Agency and based on the most recent California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool.
  • A community located on lands belonging to a California Native American tribe.

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