Breaking Through on Shared Solar
When it comes to rooftop solar, Connecticut has been burning through goals and incentive budgets to install over 150 MW of panels, a few at a time. But the higher-leverage approach to solar – larger scale installations – is not moving so dynamically – or democratically. The first utility scale power plants are in development. But the most game-changing option – community shared renewables – continues to stall.
In over a dozen states, groups of electric customers can engage the developers of their choice to create “solar gardens” for a few dozen users, or a few hundred. The utilities are required to connect these systems to the grid. Two years ago in Connecticut, a bill to enable shared renewables blew up in negotiations between the electric utilities, environmentalists and the solar industry. Last year, the legislature authorized a 6 MW pilot program which has been stalled ever since over language questions raised by the two primary electric utilities. Both years, we played a conventional advocacy game – a little committee testimony, a few action alerts, but not a lot of mojo.
This year, Clean Water Action has joined with a cluster of key advocacy organizations including CT Fund for the Environment, Acadia Center, Environment CT, Sierra Club, CT Citizen Action Group and Solar CT. We have formed an advocacy coalition with a two-year strategy and a one-year dream: to demonstrate that public demand has already outstripped the scale of the pilot and build legislative enthusiasm for accelerating solar for all.
We’re doing that with an invigorated outside game, holding community forums around the state to mobilize public pressure – not only from advocacy leaders, but from residents who want to get their electricity from this more democratic alternative – or host solar gardens as a business opportunity.
Get involved by contacting your legislators!