DC Sun, a community-based organization in Washington, D.C., is lobbying for the City Council to adopt a bill that will allow the creation of community solar gardens. The organization has more than 500 signatures on a SignOn.org petition. It’s aiming for a total of 750. But the signatures are just a show of support for legislation already moving through council, DC Sun spokeswoman Anya Schoolman told CleanEnergyAuthority.com. “The basic idea is to allow virtual net metering,
DC Sun has been working to help multi-unit buildings install rooftop solar for shared benefit between the various unit owners or renters. “If they could all get credit on their electric bills, everyone in a building could benefit without having individual inverters,” Schoolman said.
Washington, D.C. is a highly urban city with most people living in multi-unit buildings. It has the lowest homeownership rate in the country. “This bill would make it much easier to share credits between units,” Schoolman said.
The bill was introduced earlier this month with broad support, Schoolman said. It has a lot of backing from both solar and low-income housing advocates. DC Sun has been collecting petition signatures and has gotten institutional support through SignOn.org. The petition isn’t necessary to get the legislation moving. “It just shows council there is broad support for it,” Schoolman said. She said council should be considering the legislation soon and that most involved with the process are hoping it will be wrapped up by the end of the year and that the city will be able to quickly implement a virtual net metering program.
She said the bill is based loosely on legislation passed within the last two years in Colorado and Delaware, two states that have creating virtual net metering laws. The difference, Schoolman said, is that the DC program will be dealing with a single city instead of a whole state, which might make it easier to launch.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is still developing regulations and hasn’t gotten its program up and running more than a year after the legislation passed. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to start building by 2013,” Schoolman said. “We haven’t left a lot to rule-making. The bill is pretty straight-forward.”
To view the petition GO HERE.
staff photo from 2011 Solar Decathalon