Despite the government shutdown the DC Council, in a legislative session, passed The Community Renewable Energy Act. This piece of legislation makes it possible for people who do not have their own roofs to benefit from reductions in energy bills through solar power. Previously, in order to receive such benefits homeowners would have to install rooftop solar panels and connect them to a meter. So, this would count out any people who were living in apartments or condos.
The bill allows for people to invest into solar power in locations that they do not own, and then they can reduce their bills digitally. So, a customer can buy into a solar installation in the city and then a portion of the energy produced at that site will be deducted from their energy bill. People that are interested simply have to sign up online.
The bill is representative of a greater trend in the solar community that allows for people to benefit from the financial benefits of investing in solar on a community-wide basis as opposed to just individually. This is being called virtual net-metering, and is one of the ways innovators in the market are making the financial benefits of purchasing into solar power utilities available to a wider range of people.
Virtual net-metering is great for a city like DC where there are large populations of renters, who would typically not be potential solar customers. This will also help DC meet its renewable portfolio, which states that they must build 250 megawatts of renewable power systems by 2021. The city currently only has 8 megawatts installed.
This bill speaks volumes to the voice of solar power advocates in the region. DC is making renewable energy a priority by allowing it to become more appealing and obtainable to the masses, making the region an even more exciting place to be in the solar industry.