Senator Wiener Introduces Bill to Dramatically Expand Solar Sites in California & Increase Clean Local Energy

SB 1399 unlocks solar opportunities on existing underutilized non-residential spaces like rooftops, parking lots, brownfields, and office buildings, which will dramatically expand affordable solar in California
February 20, 2018


Sacramento –  Today, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 1399 to dramatically expand solar power on developed lots throughout California that to date have gone underutilized. SB 1399 will connect businesses, public agencies, schools and nonprofits directly with owners of potential solar sites like warehouses, parking lots, brownfields, landfills, and office buildings, which will spur the build-out of solar on underutilized parcels. SB 1399 significantly expands infill solar opportunities in urbanized and developed areas throughout California. SB 1399 is sponsored by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

SB 1399 bridges an existing disconnect in California. Currently, many property owners with significant rooftop or other exposed space well-suited to solar  are unable to invest in solar due to limited onsite energy needs. . Conversely, there are many businesses, public agencies, schools and nonprofits that use a lot of energy and are interested in going solar, but have little or no available space to install solar panels on their lots. SB 1399 allows these two groups to partner together, enabling solar projects to be developed on otherwise underutilized lots to provide clean energy and bill savings to local businesses and community organizations in need. This new arrangement will significantly increase the amount of solar installed in California and help the state meet its clean energy goals.

“To meet our aggressive renewable energy goals, California needs to build dramatically more solar, including maximizing use of our empty rooftops and other developed spaces that are ripe for solar,” said Senator Wiener. “However, these locations sometimes have no need for solar power onsite and therefore sit unused, while other energy customers want to access renewable energy but have no space to install solar. SB 1399 brings these two groups together – supply and demand – to drive an increase in solar installations in urbanized areas throughout California. SB 1399 will spur the generation of more clean energy and create more good-paying solar installation jobs in communities throughout our state.”

In addition to being sponsored by SEIA, SB 1399 is supported by the California Solar & Storage Association, Vote Solar, Borrego Solar, Engie Energy Services, TerraVerde Renewable Partners, National Association of Energy Services Companies, the Indian Wells Valley Water District, and the Clean Coalition.

California is a national leader in solar development but many non-residential customers are unable to install solar because they lease their space or have insufficient rooftop or other space. At the same time, California has an abundance of developed sites like parking lots, warehouses, and brownfields that are perfect for clean solar energy, but that don’t have sufficient onsite electricity demand to justify the installation of solar.

In California, there are still 35,000 acres of previously developed parcels, including over 20,000 in disadvantaged communities—that could provide perfect sites for new investments in renewable energy. SB 1399 will also spur the creation of tens of thousands of jobs throughout California, including in construction, trades, sales, engineering, operations, and more.  For example, studies have shown that distributed generation projects create 35 installation jobs per megawatt. 

The CPUC will be required reach a final decision establishing the tariff or tariffs no later than January 1, 2021.

“Commercial real estate has such a diverse array of different property types and tenants that in order for our industry to help the state achieve its progressive energy targets, innovative programs like this are essential,” said Matthew Hargrove, Vice President Government Relations of California Business Properties Association. “Solar as an important and complimentary component to our non-residential energy profile and encouraging smart policies like infill solar will allow our rooftops to be engaged in a much more efficacious way.”

Contact: Jeff Cretan, (415) 308-6782,