The City of Hartford views shared solar as a win for consumers, businesses, and the environment! Connecticut residents pay the highest electric rates in the continental US. As it stands today, solar energy is far too expensive for many individual Hartford residents to afford. Shared solar programs allow residents to purchase electricity generated by a solar installation that feeds the grid. This concept makes solar power more accessible for consumers by addressing issues related to financing, owner/renter status, and unsuitable siting. Community shared solar allows everyone to benefit from solar power.
An estimated 80% of CT homes are not candidates for onsite solar because roofs are too shady or face the wrong direction, or because they are rented or multi-family buildings. Community shared solar would allow residents, regardless of their income levels or home ownership status, to invest and participate in offsite shared clean energy facilities, and receive credit on their utility bill for their portion of the energy produced.
Connecticut Fund for the Environment has been leading the way through its Share the Sun initiative. The CTFE has provided tools for residents to organize for change in communities and for law makers to make the necessary changes to benefit our state. Due to restrictions backed by utility companies, we miss out on funding, jobs and the economic benefits that go with it and instead go to states with already implemented shared solar programs like Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont. Innovations like shared solar can help contribute to the growth of the booming renewable energy industry’s more broad program implementation in our state.
Shared solar would advance the City’s equitable clean energy goals, recently developed by the Climate Stewardship Council and approved by the City Council. Our city’s new Energy Improvement District Board also recently issued a Comprehensive Plan, including strong support of shared solar, advocating for related changes in state law, and mapping potential project sites. As the Plan notes, many residents in Hartford are not able to afford or site solar at their homes even though they pay into ratepayer funds that ultimately subsidize suburban energy projects.
If a program like the one described in SB 336 were enacted, Hartford would be able to pursue projects on previously identified clusters of neighborhood sites for shared solar. For more information, check out the Comprehensive Plan, which was recently issued by the Energy Improvement District Board.
In the past, state legislation intended to offer power to low and moderate-income customers under a cap of 17 cents per kWh, was proposed in 2014 and passed in 2015. In June 2017, the RFP process, led by CT DEEP, moved forward, and the following projects, totaling 6 MW, were selected:
- CHIP Fund 5 – Riverside Thompson 2.0 MW, Thompson, CT- in service November 2018
- Clean Energy Collective – Bloomfield Board of Education 1.62 MW, Bloomfield, CT- in service July 2018
- US Solar Corp – USS Shelton 1.6 MW, Shelton, CT- in service September 2019