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A STATEMENT FROM NEBRASKANS FOR SOLAR ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF
COMMUNITY SOLAR PROGRAMS WITHIN PUBLIC POWER

Nebraskans for Solar recognizes development of solar systems as “community solar” when:

  • Program includes public engagement in community solar projects in a variety of aspects: planning, net metering and/or virtual net metering, tax issues, financing, transfer of ownership from one community solar member to another and choice of installers.
  • Program is based on members owning a portion or share in one or more aggregated solar installations.
  • Program provides a return on the investment of members for duration of ownership/subscription and directly based on benefits to the serving utility.

Nebraskans for Solar enthusiastically supports the development of programs described as “community solar” that include the following characteristics:

  • Program results in an offset in energy and/or demand charges on the consumption side of the utility bill. Note: “Energy payments” do not provide the customer with the benefit of an energy cost hedge, and jeopardize IRS treatment on tax credits and taxable income. The ideal arrangement for members is generally referred to as “virtual net metering”. If retail compensation associated with virtual net metering is not acceptable for program sustainability, additional fixed charges for transmission (if applicable), distribution, and/or program management should be implemented based on true value of these services. An energy-payment based program is not satisfactory.
  • Program results in direct ownership of solar by the serving utility or residents within the utility boundary (who may be able to claim tax benefits through stake in a community solar installation). Program should not be served by a third party utility power purchase agreement with a non-Nebraska based organization who owns and operates the installation.
  • Program utilizes Nebraska labor, which incidentally serves public power’s state-mandated economic development function.
  • Program expands access to solar energy to all customers and includes design measures that remove economic barriers to participation for low-to-moderate income (LMI) customers, for example no or low up-front costs.

Nebraskans for Solar opposes utility solar programs with the following characteristics:

  • Use of “Green Fund” or other donation-based funds that do not itemize the magnitude of contribution and costs that funds are applied to.
  • Systems whose capacity the utility intends to apply toward state mandated net metering allowances (currently requiring utility to allow net metering customers to 1% of utility average monthly peak demand).
  • Programs that penalize or disadvantage distributed (customer owned and hyper-locally installed) solar installations connected on the customer side of a consumption meter.

Nebraskans for Solar recommends you communicate expectations for community solar to your utility and strongly consider supporting programs that meet or exceed the principles of these positions. Please contact Nebraskans for Solar with questions regarding the implementation of community solar in your community: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.

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ABOUT NEBRASKANS FOR SOLAR 

Nebraskans for Solar is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to work with other statewide nonprofit organizations, government agencies, schools, businesses and individuals to create greater access to solar energy for all. Our 5 focus areas are:

  • Solar Powering Affordable Housing
  • Nebraska Solar Schools. Nebraskans for Solar is a program partner in this new initiative, which officially launched in September 2016. Visit Nebraska Solar Schools’ website to learn more: nebraskasolarschools.org
  • Community Solar Development. Our nonprofit is one of many renewable energy advocacy groups in Nebraska that support community solar as well as rooftop solar development in our state. Community solar has other names, including shared renewables, solar farms, and solar gardens.
  • Going Solar Info Kits. These are free at our community events.
  • Educational Workshops, Panel Presentations & Tours

To sign up for our Newsletters and E-Announcements, just send an email to nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com with “subscribe” in the subject line.     

THINKING ABOUT GOING SOLAR?

 

Watch Green Bellevue’s YouTube Video, Solar Powering Your Home: Learn how to install solar panels step-by-step HERE. 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?

 

 

OPPORTUNITIES 

  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant applications now open.
    The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.
  • SolSmart is a no-cost technical assistance program for local governments designed to drive greater solar deployment and help make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access affordable and renewable solar energy to meet their electricity needs. SolSmart supports the goals of the SunShot Initiative to make it faster, cheaper, and easier to go solar.
  • The Solar Foundation administers the Solar Training Networka national program focused on growing and strengthening the U.S. solar workforce. If you are a solar employer or training provider interested in joining the Solar Training Network, visit: SolarTrainingUSA.org.
  • The Community College Gap Assistance Program offers financial aid to community college students taking non-credit courses that could lead to jobs in high-need fields. Eligible fields include renewable energy. Qualifying applicants are low-income students who would not be eligible for federal financial aid because, although they’re enrolled in college, they are not enrolled in courses for credit that lead directly to a degree. More information is posted here.
  • Community Solar Technical Assistance Opportunity: The nonprofit Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)  provides technical assistance to parties currently pursuing or interested in pursuing a community solar program. Apply online to be considered for this opportunity. SEPA approved the first applications on April 8, 2016. This opportunity will remain open through 2017, and applicants will be considered on a rolling basis.  Click here for additional details and the link to the online application form.

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