26 legislators, advocates, and community organizers from nine states and D.C. honored for their role in expanding access to community solar
The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) today announced that 26 individuals and organizations have been chosen as “Community Solar Champions” for 2021. Award winners were selected for their dedication and support in expanding community solar programs around the country. This year’s class of “Community Solar Champions” include state legislators, environmental and sustainability advocates, labor leaders, advocates for disadvantaged communities and farmers and agricultural groups.
“The Community Solar Champion Awards recognize the crucial role local stakeholders play in the creation and expansion of community solar markets around the country,” said Jeff Cramer, Executive Director, CCSA. “These awards are an opportunity to celebrate the lawmakers, organizations and other leaders working to expand access to clean, low-cost solar for all. These programs simply wouldn’t be successful without the tireless advocacy from this year’s Champions.”
Through community solar, customers can enjoy equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar generation by subscribing to small local solar arrays. They then receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof.
That is significant because 75 percent of American households don’t have access to solar power because they either rent, live in a multi-tenant building or have roofs unable to host a solar system.
There are currently 21 states and the District of Columbia with policies in place that permit third-party community solar and multiple states advancing legislation to enable new programs.
“Community solar is an economic driver that will create good family sustaining jobs across Illinois and the country,” said Pat Devaney, Secretary Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, who played a role in the passage of legislation expanding Illinois’ community solar program to more than 1.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar power over the next decade. “I am proud that Illinois Labor was able to play a role in achieving such a significant expansion of community solar and creating a brighter future for working families.”
This year’s champions hail from nine states and Washington, D.C., including:
“Our bill focused on including low income, neighborhoods, tribes and pueblos, and communities that want access to clean energy in New Mexico through community solar. It is key to addressing the climate crisis and delivering environmental and economic justice, especially to so many communities that have been left behind for too long,” said New Mexico Senator Liz Stefanics (NM-39), prime sponsor of legislation to enable a community solar program in New Mexico. “This program will also create well-paying jobs for New Mexicans and attract investment that creates new opportunities in the clean energy economy.”
CCSA’s Community Solar Champion Awards come at a time when there is growing momentum to accelerate deployment of community solar. Just this month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a goal to enable the deployment of 26 GW of community solar by 2025 or enough to power 5 million American homes. CCSA’s latest research predicts we need a minimum of 100 GW of distributed energy (community and rooftop) by 2030 in order to meet Biden’s clean energy and equity goals.
“Expanding community solar is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring that underserved and communities of color experience the benefits of a just and equitable clean energy transition,” said Luis Nasvytis Torres, who co-founded a national solar equity coalition with CCSA that includes Hispanic Federation and GreenLatinos, among others. “I am proud to be a part of this coalition and excited about the work we are doing together.”