Local News

Public workshop will explore ‘solar gardens’

By From page A3 | January 12, 2014

Even with the solar energy industry booming, many people can’t get their piece of the sun. Why? Because, among other reasons, they are renters or they don’t have unshaded roof space for solar panels.

A public workshop Wednesday evening will explore solar gardens as a possible answer to the problem. The workshop begins at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. The featured speaker will be state Sen. Lois Wolk, principal author of Senate Bill 43, a recently enacted law to encourage and facilitate solar gardens. The senator will talk about her reasons for supporting the bill and her hopes for its implementation.

The workshop, which is free, is jointly sponsored by the city of Davis and the Valley Climate Action Center, a Davis nonprofit that supports the implementation of the city’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.

Other speakers include Mark Braly, president of the climate action center, and Mitch Sears, the city’s sustainability program manager. Braly will talk about the basics of solar gardens and various approaches to funding them. Sears will discuss the city’s pioneering solar garden project, PVUSA, and Davis’ position on how to implement SB 43.

The bill will require public utilities such as PG&E to create 600 megawatts of “solar gardens” statewide; some 20 megawatts are reserved for Davis. But how this will play out is in the hands of the California Public Utilities Commission. Eugene Wilson, a Davis environmental attorney and chairman of the city’s the Natural Resources Commission, will explain the current proceeding and the position of the environmental groups he represents.

Invited also is a representative of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District, which operates the region’s only solar garden that sells shares to utility customers and gives them credit on their utility bill. The program is called Solar Shares.

For more information, contact Mark Braly at [email protected] or 530-758-1463.

Special to The Enterprise

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