How Community Solar Helps Local Disadvantaged Communities and Helps Make California Green

A young professional renting an apartment in downtown Ventura, who believes in the importance of harnessing renewable energy but doesn’t have rooftop access to install solar panels. A retired couple who own a bungalow on Larsson Street in Manhattan Beach who would love to reduce their electricity bill by utilizing solar power, but can’t afford the upfront costs to have panels installed.

There are millions of individuals, families and businesses across Los Angeles County and Ventura County who are excited about the possibility of running their appliances, vehicles and devices using solar energy, but for access and financial reasons are unable to join the effort to save energy, save money and help make California green. and local energy developers have joined an innovative new program that aims to help support communities excited about solar energy but facing limitations –
The California Public Utilities Commission designed the Community Solar program to enable electricity providers like CPA to partner with energy developers and local communities to increase the availability of renewable energy options, specifically in disadvantaged communities.

The program works by matching developers with nonprofits, schools, or public agencies who then sponsor projects on behalf of nearby residents within a Disadvantaged Community (DAC) in CPA’s service territory. Once the solar farm is constructed, members of the community can join the Community Solar program to receive credit for a portion of the electricity the solar farm produces.

Through a process called Virtual Net Metering (NEM), bill credits are assigned based on the size of the individual or group investment, with subscribers receiving credit for a set amount of energy produced by their share of the installation. In many cases, ownership and subscription models are available to interested community members, with ownership entailing purchasing a set number of the solar panels, and the subscription model enabling buyers to receive a percentage of the power the solar farm produces, at a lower price than local utility rates.

With the NEM program LA and Ventura County customers are able to maximize their rooftop solar or Community Solar investment to receive bill credits and even cash back when their systems produce more energy than they use over a 12-month period.

To help move the program forward CPA has reached out to solar developers, potential community sponsors and site hosts to encourage local participation. To complement Community Solar, CPA has also partnered with the company Energy Sage, which focuses on providing research materials to help solar customers receive free solar and battery storage quotes from nearby, pre-screened installation companies located in the online Solar Marketplace.

To learn more about these and CPA’s other community solar energy efforts, visit our dedicated webpage at