Solar supporters win big victory to help all D.C. residents benefit from solar energy

By Solar United Neighbors on July 31, 2023

Last year, the D.C. Council passed legislation to help more D.C. families go solar. It is part of the District’s goal to be 100% renewable energy powered by 2032. Solar supporters are at the cornerstone of this ambitious, but achievable, goal.

The 100% renewable energy goal will help more D.C. residents save money and take control of where their energy comes from. But last year, solar supporters realized steps to incentivize local solar were falling short. So, we sprang into action. We worked with the D.C. Council to pass the Local Solar Expansion Amendment Act (B24-950).

Solar supporters came together to pass a bill that will:

  • Boost local solar energy,
  • Help more low-to-moderate income families benefit from solar, and
  • Create good local jobs

Solar supporters push bill to keep local solar market strong

The passage of B24-950 took months of work. A half-dozen SUN supporters testified or submitted written testimony in support of this bill. 

They joined with official testimony from SUN, local solar companies, and nonprofit solar developers such as the National Housing Trust. Dozens of solar supporters contacted their council members in support of the bill.

“What I like to do is use personal stories,” said Linda VerNooy, who testified before the committee. “That sometimes influences politicians.” VerNooy, a solar homeowner herself, shared how going solar has benefited her. 

Under the District’s 100% renewable energy goal, 10% was reserved for local solar. The bill increases this to 15% by 2041. Along with this increase, the bill increases the value of incentives for going solar. These incentives are called solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs. Click here to learn how SRECs support more solar energy in D.C.

The bill also increases funding and outreach for energy assistance programs. This will help keep energy costs low for low-to-moderate income families. Finally, it funds the Office of the People’s Counsel to do a study of the benefits and costs of the local solar requirement every three years. The first report is due in 2027.

How the bill will benefit D.C. residents:

More local solar energy

Local solar energy provides significant bill savings for churches, schools and community organizations all across D.C.This is possible thanks to the strong market for SRECs. More valuable SRECs directly translate into more savings for these participants. 

Further, the strong market for SRECs supports D.C.’s Community Solar Program. Community solar gives all D.C. residents access to solar savings, including people living in condo buildings and renters.

Lower electric bills for low-income families with solar

Solar for All aims to lower electric bills by at least 50% for 100,000 low-to-moderate income households by 2032. As of late 2022, the program had lowered energy bills for just more than 9,000 D.C families. There will be no way to meet this goal without a robust SREC market.  

The new bill ensures the program will continue to receive a steady stream of funding. This will significantly lower the costs of both rooftop and community solar projects. It will put the District back on track to meet the goal of lowering 100,000 families’ electric bills over the next decade. 

Now is a great time for the District to deepen its investment in local solar. There are new federal incentives for building solar in low-income and low-employment areas as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Good local jobs and economic investment

Local solar businesses support more than 1,000 jobs. This bill will serve to add another thousand jobs through 2030, and a further 2,100 jobs in the local economy by 2041. 

Around $500 million has been invested into D.C. from the local solar carve out so far. Expansion of the local solar goal to 15% would bring in more than $1 billion in additional investments. 

Local solar keeps money in D.C. This is money that would otherwise go to out-of-state power plant owners and Exelon shareholders.

Thank you and next steps

The passage of B24-950 is a huge victory for all D.C. residents and everyone who supports increasing local solar and local benefits of clean energy. Thank you to all of SUN’s supporters and allies who helped pass the Local Solar Expansion Amendment Act of 2022!  We need your continued support — volunteer hours and dollars — to push for ambitious solar policies locally and nationally. 

Sign up to volunteer and donate to support our work!