DC Approves Community Renewables Program; Allows Renters to Go Solar

By Emily Steiver on October 1, 2013

Today the DC Council unanimously approved the Community Renewables Energy Act, which establishes a new program to help renters and thousands of other District families, schools and businesses go solar for the first time. Advocates applauded the Councilmembers for giving DC residents more ways to participate in and benefit from our growing solar economy.

“It’s great to see our nation’s capital leading on clean energy. This new shared renewables program will make solar energy work for more homes and businesses and help the District meet its clean energy goals,” said Hannah Masterjohn, policy advocate at Vote Solar.

“Given the many local economic and health benefits of expanding access to clean energy, this proposal had broad community support. We thank the Council for turning that strong public support into real clean energy progress with today’s vote,” said Irv Sheffey, DC Organizer with the Sierra Club.

“This legislation will bring clean energy and bill savings to more DC residents, including communities that have been underserved by our clean energy programs to date,” said Anya Schoolman President of DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) a local solar advocacy group.  “It’s going to create a new economic engine for the District and put people to work installing solar right here in our community where we need it the most.”

“This is a good day for the many congregations in DC that dream of getting their energy ‘from heaven,'” said Joelle Novey, Director of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light. “For the first time, any DC resident can join with neighbors to install solar panels on our community buildings.”

Electric utility Pepco worked diligently with solar advocates to develop the program. “Care and respect for the environment have long been fundamental principles that guide our business, and enable our success today and into the future,” said Donna M. Cooper president, Pepco Region. “Not only are we committed to delivering safe and reliable electricity, we are also committed to
collaborating with the District of Columbia government and other stakeholders to become a model of innovative environmental policies and practices, including the expansion of renewable energy to District of Columbia residents.”

Despite tremendous growth in solar adoption nationwide, many DC energy consumers – including the 60 percent of households who rent – are simply unable to invest in their own on-site solar energy systems. Shared renewables arrangements overcome that barrier by allowing energy customers to subscribe to an off-site renewable energy project and get utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced. The program will be available to all DC energy customers, and will allow them to sign up for up to 100% local renewable energy for their home or business.

Background on DC Community Renewables Energy Act

More information about shared renewables policies and projects across the U.S.: http://sharedrenewables.org/

About DC SUN: DC SUN is a network of neighborhood organizations from every Ward in the District of Columbia. DC SUN is dedicated to making solar energy accessible and affordable to all residents of DC. DC SUN does not represent any particular installer or company, but instead seeks to give its members neutral, informed, and accurate information to help them through the solar installation process. DC SUN is interested in promoting a vibrant, transparent, open and fair market for solar power.

About Vote Solar: The Vote Solar Initiative (Vote Solar) is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream. Since 2002 Vote Solar has engaged in state, local and federal campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement the key policies needed to bring solar to scale. www.votesolar.org

About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide, including more than 3,600 in Washington, DC. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation.