California Steps Up on Community Renewables

Governor Newsom signed a bill on Friday that will unlock access to community solar for renters and under-resourced households, while also supporting grid reliability and family-sustaining jobs. AB 2316, authored by Assembly Member Ward, passed the legislature by a broad majority and was supported by a diverse coalition of consumer advocates, environmental justice organizations, labor, environmental groups, home builders, and solar developers.


To date, California has not been a leader on community solar, which enables households to buy into the benefits of renewable energy even if they aren’t able to have solar on their own roof. But this new law directs the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create a community renewable energy program that prioritizes access for renters, low-income households, and those who cannot install on-site solar and storage for technical or cost-related reasons. 

Key elements of the law include:

  • Project participants, more than half of whom must be low-income families, will receive bill credits for the energy generated based on the energy and environmental benefits of distributed energy resources to all customers.
  • Community-scale renewable projects must be paired with energy storage to reduce strain on the grid during peak hours and provide more clean energy when the system is most strained and often the dirtiest.
  • These new renewable energy jobs must pay family-sustaining wages to ensure that both workers and the environment benefit from the clean energy economy. 
  • Aligns the program with the Inflation Reduction Act to enable federal funds to help boost these projects.

This law should put California on the forefront of community solar, and spur a wave of new solar and storage projects rooted in the communities they benefit.

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