Community solar is coming to Oregon! The landmark clean electricity bill (Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act) that Governor Kate Brown signed into law on March 11 includes enabling legislation for community-shared solar energy.This is a big step forward for clean energy and social equity. Community-shared solar expands access to clean energy for more Oregonians. Community solar means that renters and other folks who don’t own their rooftops or who live in tree-shaded neighborhoods now have a way to buy in and support local renewable energy development at a fraction of the cost.
The City of Portland has been at the forefront of innovation in community solar in Oregon. We have been experimenting with different ways to accomplish carbon emission reductions and social equity goals through community solar pilot projects since 2011.
Solar Forward was one such effort in 2013. With grant funds from the Oregon Community Foundation and generous contributions from leaders in the business community, like Umpqua Bank, Portfolio 21, Wells Fargo, SolarWorld and PDC, the pilot resulted in three 10-kilowatt solar electric systems (30 kilowatts total) installed on these important community buildings:
- Southwest Community Center (owned by Portland Parks and Recreation)
- Oliver P. Lent Elementary School (owned by Portland Public Schools)
- Ortiz Center futsal court (owned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation)
Experience gained from our leadership in this area helped the City of Portland inform the development of state public policy that eventually led to the legislation adopted earlier this month.
While the rules still need to be written for the new community solar program, we are investigating every opportunity for the City to host potential community solar projects. City staff stand ready and prepared to help the state craft a program that serves all Portlanders, with an emphasis on low-income communities and communities of color.
Follow our progress at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/solar.