Oregon’s Public Utility Commission has approved community solar rules, allowing 150 megawatts of community solar projects to serve Oregonians, with at least 10 percent of that reserved for low-income residents. Industry advocates hailed the new rules but cautioned that more still needs to be done before people can enjoy the benefits of community solar and not just rooftop solar.
“We are excited to see community solar move forward in Oregon,” said Jeff Cramer, executive director of Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA). “Our member companies are looking forward to investing in clean energy infrastructure for the state and helping meet consumer demand for solar. Following on today’s order, we urge the PUC to finalize key details of the program as soon as possible to ensure equitable access to solar for all Oregonians, whether through solar panels on their roof or in their community.”
“Stakeholders have put in a lot of work developing the community solar rules,” remarked Jeff Bissonnette, Executive Director of the Oregon Solar energy Industries Associtaion. “Solar developers are ready to start building projects but most importantly, customers are ready to sign up. We are gratified that the Commissioners recognize that we need to keep the process moving to deliver community solar to Oregonians.”
The commission approved the rules over a year after Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed SB 1574 into law, allowing community solar as well as implementing a 50 percent renewable energy standard and committing the state to ending its use of coal. The bill allowed families, businesses and schools to buy into a local solar project and receive electric bill credits for their portion of the clean power produced. Community solar can make solar accessible to every Oregonian with an electric bill.
However, the commission still needs to finalize the bill credits that customers will receive on their electric bill for buying into a community solar project. Until that is established projects aren’t likely to move forward because of the uncertainty. Advocates like CCSA and OSEIA are urging the commissions to at least establish an interim bill credit by the end of 2017 to help move community solar projects forward in the state.Tweet