In 2010, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) proposed the Solar Uniting Neighborhoods Act (S. 3136) , which will provide the standard 30% tax credit to residential customers who have their solar panels hosted off their property. (Currently, residential (but not commercial) customers must locate panels on their own property to qualify for the tax break.)
The SUN Act was set to be included in last years cap and trade legislation, which did not make it to a vote when the BP oil spill upset a delicate compromise that would have expanded offshore drilling. I had a chance to speak with Sen. Udall last week, and his thought was that the bill would be "a nice thing" to include in the national 80% clean energy standard that the President announced in his State of the Union address.
Community solar may yet make it to the Senate floor, in another compromise bill that includes nuclear energy and natural gas as "clean", but looks like our best bet for the 2011-12 congress. The SUN Act is very simple, makes a lot of sense, and makes a tax break that currently favors certain home owners available to renters, condominium owners, and those who are simply shaded by trees. I'm glad that it might be part of the solution at the federal level!
Founder, Solar Gardens Institute