California’s State Assembly Committee on Utilities and Energy is backing a law that will help expand community renewable energy production and add reliability to the grid.
The bill, AB 2316, would establish a state program to expand access to renewable energy, including community solar power paired with battery storage. It includes energy storage requirements on community solar to increase power grid reliability as well as helping builders meet state code requirements that start this year for solar energy systems paired with storage for construction of nonresidential and multi-family housing.
While community solar and renewable energy projects are intended to help disadvantaged areas receive access to clean power sources, in California the legislation is also proposed to help with power crunches and increase reliability and resiliency of the grid. That is especially a factor during times of high energy use; it can also combat possible outages as the result of natural impacts, such as wildfires.
The California law includes energy storage requirements on community solar to increase grid reliability by producing energy during high demand times that will help reduce the need of blackouts. It also dedicates at least 51% of the power generated by such projects to benefit low-income customers or service organizations.
The legislation would establish a community renewable energy program and would require the state’s Public Utilities Commission to ensure the creation and financing of viable community renewable energy facilities as well as financial incentives for facilities that have low-income subscribers or organizations that serve disadvantaged communities.
Community solar projects are small scale installations, often built on landfills, former industrial sites or private land. They are helping grow renewable energy distribution, and the Biden Administration includes it as a part of its goals to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035.
Solar power installations are expected to account for half of new utility-scale electricity generation in the United States this year, according to the Energy Information Administration. Battery storage is also expected to grow by 84% compared with 2021.
PV magazine reports that the California bill is also intended to enhance community solar programs in investor-owned utility areas, which provide more than 75% of the state’s electricity. The publication says several of those utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison, are in opposition of the bill.