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New MCE community solar programs serving disadvantaged California populations

Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 30th June

MCE has launched Community Solar Connection and Green Access, programs that can offer qualifying customers living in designated disadvantaged communities access to 100% renewable energy and a 20% discount on their electricity bills for up to 20 years. Both programs will be supported by the development of an additional 5.92 MW of new local clean energy capacity in San Rafael and Concord, California.

Credit: MCE

“With MCE’s focus on environmental justice, we are excited to launch our Community Solar Connection and Green Access programs,” said Dawn Weisz, MCE CEO. “These programs are a promising next step in increasing access to renewable resources while decreasing customer costs. MCE is committed to keeping the needs of our customers front and center as we move toward an equitable clean energy future.”

Through the program, MCE is seeking local community and municipal organizations to become sponsors for the Community Solar Connection program. Sponsor organizations will join local developers to create new solar projects located in disadvantaged communities within MCE’s service area that score in the top 25% based on CalEnviroScreen.

CalEnviroScreen is a tool that “identifies California communities by census tract that are disproportionately burdened by, and vulnerable to, multiple sources of pollution.” Project sponsors will solicit community feedback regarding project locations, partner with MCE on a community outreach and recruitment plan and support job training and workforce development opportunities. MCE invites potential sponsors to complete the interest form as soon as possible. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

At least 50% of the Community Solar Connection program’s participation capacity will be reserved for customers who are enrolled in CARE or FERA discount programs. Customers will be eligible to enroll in this program as soon as the solar resources come online, currently estimated for late 2022.

Green Access customers will be automatically enrolled beginning in September 2022, prioritizing customers who live in the highest-scoring disadvantaged communities, are currently participating in either the CARE or FERA discount program and who have the need for additional support to get caught up on their energy bills.

Once both programs are fully operational, MCE estimates it will be able to provide almost 2,900 customers with bill discounts and access to more renewable energy. These are ratepayer-funded programs overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission, which has approved MCE’s request to administer these programs for our customers.

News item from MCE