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Community Solar Expansion Program

To expand access to the benefits of renewable energy through community solar projects, in 2022 the Washington State Legislature passed 2SHB 1814 and Governor Jay Inslee signed the legislation into law. This successful legislation directs the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program to implement and administer a community solar incentive program providing $100 million in payments – over 10 years – for the development of projects benefiting low-income individuals, low-income service providers, and qualifying tribal or public agencies. Beginning July 1, 2022, administrators of said projects – which must be larger than 12kW, but no greater than 199kW – may apply to the WSU Energy Program for pre-certification. Upon approval, they will have two years for completion.

Administrators must be a utility, nonprofit, tribal housing authority or other local housing authority, and may apply for certification by the WSU Energy Program at the completion of the project and receive a one-time incentive payment from their serving utility. Administrators participating in the Community Solar Expansion Program must demonstrate how they will pass benefits to subscribers at the time of application, and must continue to pass these benefits on for a minimum of 10 years.

In the first year of the Community Solar Expansion Program, the WSU Energy Program may authorize a maximum of $300,000 in incentive payments. Each biennium thereafter, an amount not to exceed $25 million may be paid out by utilities until the authorized funding is exhausted, or by June 30, 2036. Utilities are authorized to claim a credit against their public tax obligation equal to the incentives paid out.

The WSU Energy Program will track – and make available on its website – the total number of certifications for these qualifying projects, total allocated credit, as well as the available funding that remains.