Advocates for renters, urban homeowners, small businesses and others spoke today at the Nevada Legislature for a bill that would bring clean, inexpensive solar energy to neighborhoods through community solar gardens.

The Senate Subcommittee on Energy took testimony on Senate Bill 392, with primary sponsors Senator Mo Denis and Pat Spearman of Las Vegas, which would allow subscribers to work together to establish solar gardens on rooftops, over parking lots and on vacant land. Nevada rules now require community solar projects to be regulated as utilities, making such cooperative efforts difficult or impossible.

If the measure passes, 10 or more subscribers could pool their resources to establish clean solar energy in their communities. Subscribers could be renters, home or business owners, nonprofit organizations or churches. Specific provisions in the bill would expand access to these programs in low-income communities as well.

“Community Solar is growing nationally, currently operating in 14 states and the District of Columbia,” said Jerry Holliday, President of the Uplift Foundation in Las Vegas. “Nevada has to join this movement now to reap the benefits of the natural clean energy advantages our state enjoys. The winners will be our citizens including some of the nearly 500,000 renters who currently do not have access to solar.”

“Every Nevadan should be able to choose solar to power their energy needs, whether it’s on their roof or around the corner,” said Jessica Scott, Interior West Director for Vote Solar. “Community solar will unlock consumer savings and promote a healthier environment in the communities they serve – benefits that are particularly essential for low-income families. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Denis and Senator Spearman, that opportunity is now within reach for all Nevadans.”

“Solar power is not only beneficial to our community’s efforts to minimize environmental pollution, but to low-income families who depend on the alternative source of electricity to significantly reduce utility costs and gain access to this vital resource,” said Rudy Zamora, state program director of Chispa Nevada, a program of the League of Conservation Voters. “Nevadans deserve to have the opportunity to choose our energy source, especially in a state that provides more than 300 days a year of sunshine. We hope that our legislators take action to provide us the great opportunity to use community solar in Nevada for our well-being and our future generations.”