Community solar takes step in Delaware, as PSC finalizes regulations

Delaware State News

The state has lowered hurdles to entice participation in solar.

In response to legislation that removes barriers in Delaware’s community solar program, the Delaware Public Service Commission recently published its final regulations for the initiative, paving the way for Delmarva Power customers to begin applying.

“This rule-making is the final step to connecting Delmarva Power customers with community solar projects. The updates to our community solar program help spur further investment in this innovative industry and push us closer to our renewable-energy goals,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen, D-Middletown, the sponsor of Senate Bill 2.

“Community solar is an integral part of Delaware’s clean-energy future, and these program improvements put us on track for a robust program.”

Community solar projects are midsize solar installations typically located on underutilized land, such as brownfields, landfills, farms or large rooftops.

Property owners can earn income by leasing space for the solar panels, and residents can choose to subscribe to the project, earning credits on their electricity bills for their portions of the power produced each month.

Subscriber benefits include supporting the clean-energy economy, while also getting predictable savings on electricity bills. Cheaper than installing the panels on a home, community solar expands access to solar-generated power for all customers, including renters, residents of multiunit buildings, homeowners with roof-shading issues and low-income residents.

In addition to removing legal barriers, such as requiring an owner of such a project to identify its customers before it’s built, SB 2 also expands community solar capacity to 4 megawatts and requires that at least 15% of its customers are low-income.

With PSC’s final rules in place, Delmarva Power customers will soon be able to apply for community solar.

These initiatives are welcomed by various groups.

“The Sierra Club Delaware Chapter is proud to have fought alongside (the Coalition for Community Solar Access) for the strongest and most equitable community solar program possible for Delaware,” said Dustyn Thompson, advocacy and outreach organizer for the chapter.

“We will continue to work together to expand access to local, clean, renewable energy that can finally help provide some relief to so many Delawareans struggling to pay their electric bills.”

Dale Davis, president of the Delaware Solar Energy Coalition, agreed.

“Now, Delmarva Power ratepayers at all income levels will realize the benefits of solar power,” he said. “Good, high-skilled jobs are already being created because of this program. Farmers are benefiting from additional sources of reliable income, and brownfield sites are being transformed from a liability to an environmentally positive future.”

PSC will begin accepting applications for developers of community solar projects April 11. The application — as well as PSC’s community solar regulations — can be viewed beginning Monday here.

As developers’ applications are approved, Delmarva Power residents will receive more information about participating in community solar.

Read original news story here.