When we discuss community-based renewable energy projects, it’s easy to point to small, local examples like solar panels on schools or micro wind turbines owned by farmers. But as this movement continues to grow, we’ve also begun to see ways that policies on the federal, state or utility level can also promote community benefits for renewable energy projects.
The projects described below show a variety of approaches to creating community value by:
- Creating policies that encourage project developers to incorporate community benefits when developing projects:
- Electric cooperative advocating for policies that favor offshore wind projects with community benefits. CPN member Vineyard Power is advocating that the Department of the Interior to give priority to offshore wind projects in Massachusetts that provide meaningful local community benefits and participation. This includes projects that incorporate community ownership or create local jobs.
- Empowering local communities to prevent projects from being developed unless they provide tangible benefits to local stakeholders:
- Local communities and utility-scale solar developers working together. Project developer NRG Solar worked with local community associations in Antelope Valley to ensure that a utility-scale solar project provided significant benefits for the local community.
- Creating opportunities for hybrid projects to benefit a wider range of community members:
- Washington, DC passes law to allow shared solar projects. Legislation to allow shared solar projects in Washington, DC is a policy mechanism that could lead to new, creatively structured shared solar projects. These projects could open up access to renewables for low-income customers, for example, by offering tiered pricing for solar shares based on the customer’s income.
We are interested in hearing from you about other examples and also how Community Power Network can best amplify and increase the impact of these efforts.
What do you think about these different approaches? Do you think there is a roll for CPN helping to push these policies in Washington, or helping you push them elsewhere? Should we be building a community power agenda? We’ve started a discussion thread over on our Facebook page, so check it out and share your thoughts.
Support offshore wind projects that provide community benefits? Sign the petition
It’s not too late to sign Vineyard Power’s petition in support of offshore wind projects that provide direct benefits to local communities. Sign the petition and please share with your networks!