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Definition of Community Power

Page history last edited by Rosana Francescato 11 years, 8 months ago

** DRAFT**


This is our working draft at a definition of community power.


It's based on the following:


  • Ontario Sustainable Energy Association definition: A community power project is an energy project that's owned, developed, and controlled at least 50% by residents of the community in which the project is located.
  • The factors identified by the LCEA analysis of SB 843, which looked at the potential of SB 843 to promote solar PV projects with the characteristics noted below.


This group's community power definition 


While we'd like to keep our definition flexible enough for now not to rule out a lot of projects, here's a start at some items we think would be ideal for a community power project -- these are desirable but not necessarily required components:


  • Community power projects should be in or near an identifiable community -- The question came up of what if a project is in the central valley but created by people in the SF bay area? <<Jeff, you mentioned a 5 MW project you're working on, can you add something about that? And wasn't there another example given?>>
  • They should be owned and controlled by the community through transparent democratic decision making -- or if not owned, at least the community should have control. <<Need to check if investors in University Park Solar project are considered owners.>>
  • They should be locally financed -- this may be ideal if not always possible, but control should remain with the community.
  • They should enable participation by low-income communities -- again, ideal to have, may not always be accounted for explicitly.
  • They should employ a local workforce (using local training programs) for development and maintenance.
  • They should employ land use policies that preserve agricultural land and environmentally sensitive habitat.
  • It's ideal for them to be flexible enough over time to allow for enhancements such as residential energy upgrades, electricity storage, smart grid, and best practices


We can refine this definition over time. 


Joy Hughes's definition


  1. Community power is initiated through a grass-roots process with all stake holders at the table.
  2. Community power is as distributed as possible - if not on your roof, in your neighborhood. If not in your neighborhood, within your county. And if not in your county, in a sister community with a complementary energy profile (one sunny, the other windy, say).
  3. Community power takes into account all externalities - carbon footprint, land use, and visual + auditory impacts.
  4. Community power is integrated into the local environment with multiple uses - providing shade, co-located with local food production, or used as public art. A solar garden should be a place people want to go.
  5. Community power supports existing social networks - local agriculture, religious or environmental groups, schools, libraries, community centers, etc.
  6. Community power is owned in common or fractionally by its users, or leased-to-own.
  7. Community power keeps money local, re-investing revenue in improvements.
  8. Community power supports local entrepreneurs, workers, and non-profits. It's available to low and middle income people.
  9. Community power keeps people engaged in groups, helping them become more sustainable in every way.
  10. Community power groups work together, share resources and knowledge, reach out to other communities, and work for further reform.


Examples of community power projects


  • Arizona Public Service's "Community Power Project Flagstaff Pilot"
  • SDG&E's "Share the Sun" and "SunRate"
  • CleanPowerSF and Sonoma County's developing "virtual power plant-style" CCAs (but the jury is still out, a bit, with these...)
  • Vaxjo, Sweden (DG + EE combo) 





Comments (1)

jim rothstein said

at 3:28 pm on Jul 15, 2012

Just a few comments, which I hope constructive,
-"community" is not defined; but more importantly: I am having trouble distinguishing between 'community power' and other things we associate with 'community': public schools, fire stations, libraries. Isn't energy infrastructure a public good? "Community power" seems to be about making something an asset - a private asset - and therefore raising many issues of ownership, funding and tax entity issues,

-NREL has a definition which is explicit about financial side: 'community shared solar" is "a solar-electric system that provides power and/or financial benefit to multiple community members"
-Urban Oakland, for example, has lots of roofs, communities, electrical load, sun, etc. How will any proposal affect this view of 'community'?
-As public policy, I am complete beginner. But I like this advice:
• If you want to encourage some activity, make it easy.
• You can’t make evidence-based policy decisions without evidence.
Do we have evidence?

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