The Nevada Senate this evening passed legislation to allow neighborhoods to work together to establish community “solar gardens” to provide low-cost, clean renewable energy to multiple subscribers, efforts that have encouraged solar power development in other parts of the country.
The bipartisan vote in support for Senate Bill 392, with primary sponsors Senators Mo Denis and Pat Spearman of Las Vegas, sends the legislation to the Nevada Assembly. Clean energy advocates urged the Assembly to work quickly to pass the bill and send it to Governor Brian Sandoval for his signature.
Approval would mean that multiple subscribers could pool their resources to establish clean solar energy on rooftops, over parking lots and on vacant land. 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. Nevada rules now require community solar projects to be regulated as utilities, making such cooperative efforts difficult or impossible.
“Community solar, or solar gardens, are an essential step toward equitable access to renewable energy,” said Roxann McCoy, president of the Las Vegas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “They provide the ability for community members to have access to a renewable power source that saves money and improves the health of the community. In low income communities and communities of color, households, businesses, nonprofits and churches can work together and combine their resources to invest in the solar energy systems that the community can afford.”
“Families are looking for opportunities to work together to put clean, low-cost solar energy in their neighborhoods,” said Dr. Mary L. House, executive director of Caring Helping Restoring Lives, a faith-based Las Vegas non-profit that equips individuals with the tools to lead independent and self-sufficient lives. “By working together, we can make this work for neighborhoods. Churches, community centers and similar places have the room to put solar panels, and our families are ready to share in the benefits.”
“Nevada’s leadership on equitable solar access, healthier communities, and lower customer electric bills is in the hands of Assembly members,” said Jessica Scott, Interior West Director at Vote Solar. “SB392 (community solar) is designed to expand access to solar for all of Nevada’s communities while delivering those essential economic benefits to the state. Today, we urge Nevada lawmakers to act boldly on behalf of all Nevadans and vote yes for SB 392.”
About RenewNV: RenewNV is a partnership of organizations working to build and enhance Nevada’s clean energy economy. Renewable energy means reliable power, clean air, and good jobs for Nevada, and smart energy policies that can make the Silver State an economic powerhouse.