The community solar program in California is off to a slow start. The reasons for this slow start were discussed at a solar developer’s forum held by the state’s major utilities and policymakers on April 5, 2017.
Background on Community Solar in California
California’s community solar program is formally known as the Enhanced Community Renewables (“ECR”) program. The ECR program is part of the larger Green Tariff Shared Renewables (“GTSR”) program. The GTSR program was signed into law in 2013, and final program rules were adopted in May 2016. Together, these programs require the California investor-owned utilities (“IOUs”) to procure 600 megawatts (“MW”) of new renewable energy.
Under the ECR component of the program, customers can enter into agreements directly with third party project developers to purchase new clean energy generated by a project located in their community. ECR projects are limited to sizes between 500 kW and 20 MW.
As we recently reported, the IOUs held their first request for offer (“RFO”) last fall, which sought to award power purchase agreements (“PPAs”) for 170 MW of new renewable energy from ECR projects. However, very few bids were submitted in the solicitation, and ultimately no PPAs were awarded. The developer forum was intended to discuss some of the reasons for this lackluster performance.
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