Shortly after a series of solar panel mandates passed, requiring new homes built in 2020 to include solar panels, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approved the use of a Californian off-site community solar project to power residences. The CEC’s approval ultimately negates the 2019 California Building Standards and the mandates that came with it.
The solar garden eyed for the CEC’s application is found in the service area of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Currently, the large array of solar panels services 1.5 million households. Being able to draw power from the Californian off-site community solar project will allow builders to provide an alternative renewable energy option to their customers.
Using its SolarShares program, SMUD aims to provide residents an affordable alternative to costly solar panels. In lieu of having a private source of renewable energy, customers will be able to partake in SMUD’s SolarShares program to receive power from the solar panel array. Though homeowners are sure to appreciate the reduced restrictions, SMUD’s alternative wasn’t well-received by everyone.
Senator Scott Wiener accused SMUD of proposing a plan that would reduce the adherence to renewable energy goals set forth in the 2019 California Building Standards. According to Wiener, it would turn SMUD into a solar monopoly and the proposal is a means of preventing people from generating their own electricity using renewable means.
To increase its ability to service the local communities, SMUD started constructing a 160-megawatt Californian off-site community solar project. The new farm will be located on 550 acres of land at the Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station, which has since been decommissioned. The new site is expected to be the largest solar photovoltaic array in Sacramento County and will be able to power more than 120,000 homes.
Though some officials that supported the 2019 standards may oppose SMUD’s plans approved by the CEC, homeowners will find a great benefit to being able to utilize the off-site solar project.