CLEAN Programs allow local businesses, residents, and organizations to install local, renewable energy projects — including solar, wind, and biomass facilities — in underutilized spaces such as rooftops, waste water treatment plants, and abandoned lots.
CLEAN Programs remove obstacles and uncertainties from renewable energy’s path.
CLEAN Programs make it easier to build clean local energy projects, connect them to the grid, and establish long-term contracts to sell the power produced to utilities. With CLEAN Programs in place, financing clean local energy projects becomes much easier, and the whole community benefits.
Here’s just one example: Since establishing a CLEAN Program in 2009, the city of Gainesville, Florida has grown its solar photovoltaic capacity by 3,500% and created nearly 300 local jobs, while energy prices have risen by less than 1%. Gainesville, with more than 12 megawatts of solar generating capacity and 200,000 residents, now boasts an installed solar capacity per capita total that is more than triple the United States average.
This map highlights the status of CLEAN Programs in North America.
The Clean Coalition has provided policy support to utilities across the country, and so far we have helped enough clean local energy online to provide peak power to nearly two million American homes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do CLEAN Programs reduce the cost of renewable energy?
CLEAN Programs cut the cost of renewable energy in several ways:
- A CLEAN Program’s transparent, streamlined process and guaranteed, long-term payments for energy limit the investment risk for developers and financiers. This lowers financing costs and helps assure investors and developers that they will get a predictable return on their investment.
- CLEAN Programs encourage energy to be produced and used locally, which avoids the expensive and inefficient long-distance transmission of energy from distant power plants.
- CLEAN Programs allow for the development of wind and solar projects and biomass generation facilities in underutilized spaces. Rooftops, parking lots, and fields can be turned into energy-generating places that create revenue.
- Solar power — a technology often used in CLEAN Programs — generates power during times of peak usage, giving ratepayers access to cheaper power at periods of high energy demand.
- By diversifying energy sources, CLEAN Programs help insulate ratepayers from volatile spikes in the price of fossil fuels.
Will a CLEAN Program affect my power bill?
The world’s most effective CLEAN Programs define ratepayer impact as part of program design, so any rate hikes are known upfront, eliminating surprises. CLEAN Programs can even save consumers money from the start, depending on how much they currently pay for energy.
Some real-world examples:
- Gainesville, Florida increased its solar capacity by 3,500%, while raising electricity rates by less than 1% — about a dollar per month.
- Sacramento, California brought 100 megawatts of clean local energy online without raising rates for consumers.
CLEAN Programs also result in local, renewable energy projects. Energy produced locally avoids the expensive transmission of energy over long distances from centralized power plants, which can comprise nearly 25% of the price a consumer pays for energy. Additionally, one of the most popular CLEAN technologies — solar photovoltaic (solar PV) power — provides generation during peak demand periods, producing normally expensive “peak energy” at lower costs. In general, boosting the diversity of energy sources tends to help insulate ratepayers from spikes in energy prices.
How is a CLEAN Program different from a net metering program?
Here’s the key difference: net metering allows for reduced electric bills — even the possibility of reducing your power bill to zero. But a CLEAN Program opens the door to a steady revenue stream.
Net metering uses a single meter to record both the electricity a family, business, or organization uses, and the excess generation your renewable system sends back to the grid. The meter spins backward as you feed extra energy into the system, and forward as you use energy. The energy you generate can cancel out the energy you use, but it can’t make you money, no matter how much renewable capacity you install.
CLEAN Programs feature a separate meter to measure power produced. If you are a utility customer, you continue to pay the retail rate for electricity consumed. And you also get paid the wholesale rate for every watt of clean, renewable energy you generate and sell to the local utility. If your project generates enough energy, you can make more than you spend on energy from the grid.
Who can participate in a CLEAN Program?
Well-designed CLEAN Programs encourage broad participation by individuals, businesses, and organizations in a community.
Participation can be direct — by installing rooftop solar panels, for example — or through shared ownership in community power projects. CLEAN Programs allow everyone in the community to benefit, regardless of whether or not they own land.
Do we really need a CLEAN Program to support clean local energy?
CLEAN Programs offer communities a proven tool for developing local renewable power without reinventing the wheel. It’s especially good for developing cost-effective clean energy projects that take advantage of underused spaces in our communities — from landfills to parking lots to rooftops.
CLEAN Programs also help overcome utilities’ historical preference for large-scale, centralized power plants, while addressing the limitations of existing renewable programs such as net metering.