The Coalition for Community Solar Access honors individuals in elected office, advocacy, and regulatory spaces for their work advancing accessible renewable energy opportunity across California
Sacramento, CA (October 3, 2023) — The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is commemorating the strong momentum to revamp California’s community solar programs to better serve all the state’s citizens by recognizing individuals whose efforts and dedication are establishing California as, once again, a leader in accessible solar energy.
CCSA is awarding California State Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park), California Green New Deal Coalition Manager Zach Lou, and Vote Solar Regulatory Director Stephanie Doyle among its 2023 Community Solar Champions. These individuals have been selected among 22 nationwide winners, which include state legislators, environmental and sustainability advocates, labor leaders, advocates for disadvantaged communities, and farmers and agricultural groups.
Sen. Becker is committed to accelerate California to 100% renewable energy and net zero emissions. Thanks to him, state budget negotiations in the State Senate included funding for community solar and storage. He also signed on to a joint legislative letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) urging them to approve CCSA’s “Net Value Billing Tariff” (NVBT) proposal. Sen. Becker continues to fully promote a robust community solar + storage program in California.
“Sen. Becker set out his career in the State Senate with climate action as a core priority. A strong community solar and storage program and energy equity in California wouldn’t be possible without champions like him,” said Derek Chernow, Western Regional Director for CCSA. “We’re humbled to award him one of our 2023 Community Solar Champion Awards. We look forward to working with the senator for many years to come.”
Zach Lou was an important voice in the passage of AB 2316 in California last year, and he has continued his commitment to expand community solar beyond the bill. As part of CCSA’s broad coalition, Lou has been a key environmental justice voice in support of community solar. He has joined meetings with the CPUC and worked with other community leaders in promoting community solar and storage programs to the California Infrastructure Bank in anticipation of California’s Solar for All application.
“Zach Lou is an instrumental leader to accelerate community solar plus storage in California,” Chernow said. “His commitment to community solar has shined through as we’ve navigated a diverse range of environmental justice, advocacy partners, and stakeholders in our state. For that, we’re thrilled to bestow a Community Solar Champion award to Zach.”
Stephanie Doyle has been a major contributor in the broad coalition supporting the NVBT at the CPUC. In her time as the regulatory director at Vote Solar (and now as CA State Director at Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)), she helped to craft the joint filing from Vote Solar, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and California Environmental Justice Alliance, and was a key voice in meetings with CPUC staff. She has also amplified positive media coverage of community solar in California through Vote Solar’s network. Further, Doyle played an important role in helping draft the environmental justice collaborative proposal to the CA Infrastructure Bank for the state’s Solar for All application.
“Stephanie’s regulatory expertise has proven invaluable to translate policy into practice in our proposals,” Chernow commented. “We’re fortunate that the next chapter of her career is in solar advocacy with SEIA. She’s a steadfast partner and ally in democratizing solar, and a worthy recipient of this year’s Community Solar Champion award.”
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.
An estimated two-thirds of American households do not have access to solar power because they either rent, live in a multi-tenant building or have roofs unable to host a solar system.
California passed AB 2316 last year, which, if implemented favorably by the CPUC, will create the largest potential community solar market in the country. There are currently 18 states plus the District of Columbia with policies in place that permit third-party, competitive community solar, while multiple states are advancing legislation to enable new programs.
The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a national trade association representing over 120 community solar developers, businesses, and nonprofits. Together, we are building the electric grid of the future where every customer has the freedom to support the generation of clean, local solar energy to power their lives. Through legislative and regulatory advocacy, and the support of a diverse coalition — including advocates for competition, clean energy, ratepayers, landowners, farmers, and environmental justice — we enable policies that unlock the potential of distributed energy resources, starting with community solar. For more information, visit https://www.communitysolaraccess.org and follow the group on Twitter (X), LinkedIn, and YouTube.