A Look at Recent Bills in Rhode Island and California

A recent bill proposed in Rhode Island called the Solar Neighborhoods Act suggests that all newly constructed buildings and parking lots over 16,000 square feet should have solar panels.  

Likewise in California, Senate Bill 49 has been introduced to support tax credits for solar canopies over parking lots and along highways.  

Senate Bill 49 provides a sales tax exemption for the materials to build solar canopies over parking lots and requires the state to develop a plan to make its highway rights-of-way available for solar, energy storage, and transmission infrastructure.  

California is targeting 100% clean energy by 2045 and will need 110 GW of new solar to achieve this. The Solar Neighborhoods Act and Senate Bill 49 could play a vital role in achieving this goal. 

Dive In 

The Rhode Island bill proposes a requirement for single-family dwellings to have solar systems that produce 80% of the estimated average annual electricity use, while multi-family dwellings and large commercial buildings must have solar systems that meet a minimum generating capacity established by the commission.  

The bill also proposes raised solar-panel canopies covering 50% of the surface of the parking lot, with 5% of parking spaces featuring EV (Electric Vehicle) charging stations and an added 20% of parking stations having infrastructure that makes EV charging station upgrades possible in the future. The proposed bill is meant to increase energy efficiency, reduce costs for consumers, create job opportunities, and reduce carbon footprints. 

The Solar Neighborhoods Act has been recommended by the House Committee on Corporations for further study, but it is hoped that the bill will be passed soon. California is the only state that has a solar mandate on new construction, and Massachusetts has pending solar mandate legislation. 

Solar panels on parking lots and buildings have several benefits. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reports that pavement makes up 35% to 50% of the total surface area in cities, and 40% of that pavement is parking lots.  

Placing a solar canopy over an existing parking lot is a more efficient use of space than buying land for a ground mount system. Additionally, a solar canopy over a parking lot provides protection for cars from the elements and generates clean energy. 

“We are going to need a lot more solar, that means a lot more land. So how can we do this by preserving sensitive ecosystems and protecting our productive agricultural lands from excessive encroachment? These two strategies in this bill are effective ways to build more solar without displacing other uses,” said Senator Becker, who introduced Senate Bill 49. 

Jennifer Boylan, the representative who sponsored the Solar Neighborhoods Act, believes that solar panels should be mandatory for new constructions as every new building that does not have solar panels is a lost opportunity. Consumers will pay less for energy, generate their electricity, and put good jobs into construction. It will also reduce carbon footprints, making it a win-win situation. 

In conclusion, the Solar Neighborhoods Act and Senate Bill 49 are good initiatives that should be adopted not only in Rhode Island and California but everywhere in the US. These bills could play a vital role in achieving the target of 100% clean energy by 2045.  Contact Staten Solar for all your solar needs.