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New bill seeks to lower barriers for community solar projects in Delaware

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

One state lawmaker introduced a bill making it easier to build community solar projects in Delaware.


Community solar is becoming an increasingly popular way for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and their electric bill. 


Customers can sign on to a community solar project and pay a reduced energy rate every month.


State Sen. Stephanie Hansen (D-Middletown) says these projects are beneficial for lower income individuals, people who can’t afford to put solar panels on their homes, or may not even own a home at all.


“If you're only allowing really solar installations but they’re on rooftops, you’re missing a large part of the population that might otherwise really want to benefit from community solar — and benefit from the lower cost of electricity,” Hansen said.


The current laws make it hard for community solar to exist here. Organizations wanting to build them need to have all the customers lined up before construction, capacity is far too limited and there are issues around being on the same distribution lines.


Hansen’s bill would remove those barriers, and make it easier for companies, nonprofits and even churches to build their own community solar projects.


According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a solar energy trade group, Delaware ranks 40th overall in solar energy production.


The bill has support of both the Senate President Pro-temp and the Senate Majority Leader.


Hansen adds this legislation is years in the making, started by retired State Sen. Harris McDowell, who was a big advocate for solar.


She says she’s reached out to stakeholders throughout the pandemic to produce a bill supported by the community and energy businesses.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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