You’ve heard us talk about how policy matters in the fight against climate change and how legislators need to hear from their constituents that climate action is important. But does contacting your representatives actually do anything?
The answer? An emphatic yes! This year, we started asking our members to help us build support for community solar legislation in their states by reaching out to their representatives. It was so successful that we decided to build a feature in the Arcadia dashboard that makes it easy for members to contact their state representatives.
Legislators really are listening to their constituents, and one email really can make a difference.
So far, our members have sent emails supporting community solar to legislators in more than 30 states, and we’ve had some huge policy wins. For every bill that passes, more residents can enjoy the cost-savings and environmental benefits of community solar programs. Our members are making that happen.
Here are four of the policy wins we’re most excited about this year:
Maryland has a small community solar pilot program, but earlier this year, the state’s Public Service Commission was wary to expand it, despite early success. That would have limited the number of Maryland residents who could take advantage of community solar’s great benefits, as well as the amount of solar power generated in the state.
We created a petition calling on the Commission to double the community solar program’s capacity, and 555 of our members in Maryland signed it. The petition was successful — Maryland followed in the footsteps of states such as New York and Massachusetts and is now expanding its community solar program.
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In March, New Mexico’s state legislature passed SB 84, the Community Solar Act, to start a community solar program in the state. We’re grateful to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Elizabeth Stefanics, Senator Linda M. Lopez, and Representative Patricia Royal Caballero, for their work, as well as to all our New Mexico members who emailed their state representatives expressing their support for community solar.
We can’t wait to start connecting folks in New Mexico to local solar farms!
Maine originally passed community solar legislation in 2019, but there were some concerns that the program cost Maine residents more money than it saved them. We knew that wasn’t true — one study found that Maine’s community solar program would create 700 jobs in the state, bring in $782 million in economic activity, and avoid 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
We worked with our coalition partners, stakeholders, and legislators to preserve Maine’s community solar program while making it even better for customers. Our members were instrumental in letting their representatives know that they supported a robust community solar program in the state. More than 300 members in Maine signed our petition to the Maine State Legislature.
The bill that resulted from all this work, LD 936, passed in June. It clarifies the cost-savings from community solar for consumers and outlines criteria for new community solar farms being built, making Maine’s community solar program more stable and reliable for residents. Thank you to all of our members who voiced their support! It made a big difference.
Earlier this month, the First State became the latest state to pass a community solar bill! Community solar legislation introduced by Senator Stephanie Hansen was signed into Delaware state law, making access to solar easier for residents all around the state. We were thrilled to bring our knowledge of community solar best practices to the table to help inform this legislation. Senate Bill 2:
- Offers more variety in solar farm ownership models
- Increases the maximum size of solar farms
- Removes unnecessary restrictions on who can participate in each solar farm
- Speeds up the permitting and construction for new community solar farms
- Requires each solar farm to reserve at least 15% of its spots for low-income customers
None of these policy wins would be possible without our members speaking up to tell their representatives that they support community solar. Legislators really are listening to their constituents, and one email really can make a difference. And while we’re excited about all this progress, it only inspires us to work harder to pass community solar legislation in more states. Join our mailing list to stay informed when there’s a bill that needs support in your state.