Kaye Scholer Pro Bono Client DC SUN Basks in the Afterglow with Passage of the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013
WASHINGTON, DC: Spearheaded by DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN), a collective of twelve local solar cooperatives led by longtime renewable energy activist and President Anya Schoolman, the DC Council today passed the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013. The law will make solar power more accessible and affordable to all Washington, DC area residents via the creation of community solar facilities.
Previous DC-area energy policies allowed only those with private roof access to install solar panels that help reduce utility bills by providing consumers with a credit for the power generated by their homes. Now those in low-income, shared, rented or other housing without roof access can invest in the installation of solar panels on facilities elsewhere in the city, such as schools, churches, parking lots and other venues. Participants in these community solar facilities will then receive a financial credit on their monthly electric bill for their share of the electricity generated.
While other communities across the United States have passed similar legislation, the Community Renewables Energy Act is the first-of-its-kind specifically designed to serve densely populated, urban landscapes by focusing on the use of roofs and other architecture to create community solar farms. While other programs restricted the types of facilities that could utilize solar panels, this program is far more flexible, allowing an unlimited number of participants and facilities to invest.
With the law’s passage, DC Sun is now focused on developing and rolling out a pilot community solar project, that will include incentives to encourage low-income residents to participate.
“We have found that people from all walks of life really want to produce their own clean local electricity—self reliance is a basic instinct. This new law creates an opportunity for all DC residents to hedge against rising energy prices, create local jobs and to improve the environment. It is a win, win, win for DC,” said Schoolman.
As pro bono counsel for DC SUN’s original member, the Mt. Pleasant Solar Co-op, since 2009, Kaye Scholer, an AmLaw 100 firm with an active Energy & Infrastructure Group, advised on the legislation.
Kaye Scholer’s Energy & Infrastructure Group represents leading investors, sponsors, developers, lenders, utilities and governments in the purchase and sale, capitalization and financing, planning and structuring, and permitting and regulation of energy and infrastructure assets around the globe. The Kaye Scholer lawyers advising the Co-op include energy litigators Kimberly Frank and Randall Speck.