- As mandated by Senate Bill 43, California is about to initiate a community shared solar program requiring its three dominant investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric — to obtain 600 megawatts of new capacity by 2019. Solar advocates question the affordability of the utility programs.
- SCE projects 0.5% of its customer base, approximately 26,000 customers, will subscribe to shares of solar arrays that its 269 MW share of the mandate by 2019 will comprise. PG&E expects to have 40,000 customer-subscribers for its 272 MW portion of the mandate. SDG&E’s share of the mandate is 59 MW.
- Rooftop solar installers do not expect the community shared solar arrays to interfere with their business opportunities because subscribers are expected to be from the 48% of businesses and 49% of residences that do not have solar-suitable roofs. It could compete with municipal governments’ community-choice aggregation programs.
California’s community choice aggregation program allows local governments to choose and purchase their own mix of electricity and deliver it through existing infrastructure. All community choice aggregation programs presently emphasize renewables.
In anticipation of a solar rush before the federal investment tax credit sunsets at the close of 2016, the community shared program requires signed contracts for a minimum of 50 MW from SCE and PG&E and 10.5 MW from SDG&E in 2015 to kick-start the program.
The Enhanced Community Renewables (ECR) program is directed mainly at developers. It allows them to sell shares of arrays of up to 3 MW through long term contracts to utility customers without access to rooftop solar. The utilities are more interested in the GTSR program. It allows them to develop smaller scale renewables and sell the generation in green premium-like programs.