For Immediate Release February 20, 2020

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission (CEC) today approved Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Neighborhood SolarShares Program, a proposal for community solar under the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Code). 

The Energy Code took effect January 1, 2020, and requires a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on new single-family and low-rise residential homes. When adopted, the updated Energy Code included community solar as an alternative option to rooftop PV systems. 

“Community solar was built into the Energy Code to provide flexibility in satisfying the solar requirement,” said Commissioner J. Andrew McAllister, who is the Energy Commission’s lead on the Energy Code. “We expected that the marketplace and stakeholders would find solutions appropriate for their communities. SMUD has created a proposal to do that by offering builders 100 percent solar power at guaranteed savings to their customers. Other community solar proposals will look different. Openness to diverse cost-effective solutions is a hallmark of California’s innovation economy and key to meeting our goals for clean energy, climate, and resilience.”

The Energy Code provides for Commissioners to consider approving community solar programs based on the following six requirements: 

  1. Enforcement - The solar resource must exist at the time the home is permitted and the applicant must work in coordination with the building department for review and enforcement
  2. Energy Performance - The energy savings must match that of rooftop solar
  3. Dedicated Energy Savings - The generated solar must be dedicated to the building 
  4. Durability - Proposed facilities must be operational for 20 years
  5. Additionality – Savings cannot be counted to meet other utility renewable requirements
  6. Accountability and Recordkeeping – Applicant must keep records and make them accessible for 20 years 

Commissioners voted unanimously that the Neighborhood SolarShares Program meets each of the six requirements. 

In addition, the program guarantees resources that supply power to participating homes will be located in SMUD service territory; renewable power sources will be new and 20 megawatts or less; and assistance to developers and builders to facilitate offering a point of purchase choice option for homebuyers. SMUD also states that participants will see charges and receive credits on their bill at a guaranteed annual net benefit of $10 per kilowatt per year. 

More details are available in SMUD’s revised application and CEC staff review.


About the California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is leading the state to a 100 percent clean energy future. It has seven core responsibilities: developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, increasing energy efficiency, investing in energy innovation, advancing state energy policy, certifying thermal power plants, and preparing for energy emergencies.