DC Council Reintroduces Community Solar Bill

Bill# 20-0057, also known as the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013, is a critical piece of legislation that will provide open access to solar power for all of DC residents.  Essentially this Bill is a community solar initiative that would permit DC residents to subscribe to a portion of a solar array and receive credit, on their monthly electric bill, for the solar electricity it produces.  If this Bill is enacted, it will be the greatest leap forward since the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008.

Why is this Bill important?  Unfortunately, many residents of DC are unable to use solar energy because they either rent apartments, condominiums, etc. or their properties are just not ideal for solar installation.  The Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013 would provide the opportunity and a creative way for more DC residents to go solar.  It would also eliminate worries customers have about any operational costs associated with going solar.

So how exactly does this work?  To start, a DC electric utility customer would subscribe and commit to purchasing a portion of the solar electricity from the community facility.  This customer would then be credited on their utility bill for the solar energy their portion generated.  This is known as “Virtual Net Metering”.  Currently, DC residents who install solar use a simpler version known as “Net Metering”

What exactly is the difference between Net Metering and Virtual Net Metering?  With Net Metering the utility meter spins forwards and backwards.  When it is spinning forwards this means that the site is consuming more generation than it is producing and when it is spinning backwards the system is generating more than the site is consuming.  At the end of the month customers only pay for the net electricity used from the utility’s electricity grid.  With Virtual Net Metering the process is very similar but, instead of the production and consumption being measured through one meter, there are two meters.  The first is located at the site of the community generation facility and it measures the solar production.  The second meter is located at the subscriber’s residence and it measures consumption.  The utility then nets the production and consumption to proportionally provide credit to each subscriber based on their portion of production and their annual consumption.  Subscribers then receive a credit on their electricity bill based off of their proportional production.

This Bill known as the “Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013” has received immense support from DC residents; however, utility and energy suppliers have showed opposition because they are concerned the costs may outweigh the benefits of such a system.  The suppliers feel that customers should have a minimal one-year obligation, to help defray the utilities costs.  Nonetheless, with that being said, the reintroduction of this Bill shows the Council’s commitment to expanding access to solar for all DC’s residents.

To see the Bill for yourself click here