- Two national solar groups on Monday launched a new campaign aimed at streamlining the permitting and inspection process, which they say adds approximately $1/watt to the cost of a typical residential solar energy installation.
- The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The Solar Foundation (TSF) teamed up on the proposal to replace the current "patchwork" of rules and regulations with "standardized online permitting and interconnection" tools they say could save $7,000 on the average rooftop installation.
- The groups say a move its Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) could mean the development of an additional 1.1 million residential solar systems and 30,000 jobs over a five year period.
Solar installations must be safe and not impede grid functioning, but SEIA and TSF say the system in place now to ensure that is far too complicated.
The result, they argue, isn't merely a delay in individual projects, but significantly higher customer costs as well.
The problem stretches beyond solar installations to energy storage, which customers are increasingly considering alongside distributed generation.
Reforming the solar and battery permitting process is "one of the most significant steps our country can take to making solar more affordable for all," Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun, a leading solar installer, said. The current landscape is "a patchwork of inconsistent permitting procedures and standards," she said in a statement.
The groups say reforms include a "simple, standardized" online platform that would be provided free to local government and could register and automatically screen qualifying solar proposals. The pair also developed a model "instantaneous permitting regime" for home and small-commercial solar and battery storage systems.
One key to automating any of the permitting process is standardizing the inputs. Recommendations include a list of established equipment standards and certified equipment for solar and storage projects.
The SolarApp initiative includes a training and certification program that allows residential and small commercial solar and battery installers to "attest" their projects "comply" with codes and laws, which SEIA and TSF say will "eliminate the need for a traditional multi-step permitting process."