DC Considers New Energy Bill to Harness Community Energy Sources

March19, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solar panels

The nation’s capital city, Washington, D.C., is considering legislation that would make solar power more attainable for its citizens–allowing even those residents and businesses in less sunny areas of the city to harness energy from the sun to power their buildings.

According to Steve Seuser, a member of the solar advocacy group D.C. SUN, “The problem is if people can’t do solar on their own roofs, there’s no way to connect a solar system they would have somewhere else on their Pepco bill. That’s what this bill would do.”

If enacted, the Community Energy Renewables Act of 2012 would make it possible for two or more individuals to draw solar energy from the same source, located somewhere within in the city–say from the sunnier building across the street, for example. Dubbed community solar, this project is designed to make access to solar power more equitable, allowing anyone within the city to benefit from greener, more cost-effective power sources.

Similar bills have been proposed in other areas of the country such as Maryland and Virginia, and there are community-based campaigns currently at work in several parts of Oregon:

“These campaigns, where neighbors buy or lease discounted solar energy systems in bulk as part of a limited-time offer, are lighting up the state from Portland to Pendleton,” writes Carrie Sturrock at The Oregonian. “Beaverton just put solar on more than 250 homes. West Linn and Lake Oswego will soon launch a joint campaign. Gresham is gearing up for one, as is Eugene. Northeast Portland is in the midst of its second.”

In D.C., Pastor Peter Spann of Promised Land Baptist Church considers community solar good news for his church. Part of an older building, Promised Land’s roof is oriented east/west, preventing it from grabbing the more predominant south-facing rays. But with the new legislation, it may be possible for the church to harness the energy from the sun and go solar.

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