The United States Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu announced $12 million in funding for the awardees of the Rooftop Solar Challenge. Lynn Jurich, president and co-founder of the solar power company SunRun, and Saint Paul, Minnesota Mayor Chris Coleman were also in attendance.
The Challenge supports 22 regional teams and is designed to spur solar power deployment by streamlining and standardizing permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes along with improving finance options. According to the DOE, the DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to “make solar energy more accessible and affordable, increase domestic solar deployment, and position the U.S. as a leader in the rapidly-growing global solar market.”
Secretary Chu notes, “Through this competition, the Energy Department is helping to unleash America’s solar potential by investing in projects that will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to finance and deploy solar power in communities across the country. These awards will reduce the cost homeowners and businesses pay to install solar energy systems, while at the same time saving money and time for local governments faced with tight budgets.”
The DOE indicates that reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by about 75 percent “will drive widespread large-scale adoption of solar—fortifying U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race while spurring new industries and job creation across the nation.”
Non-hardware costs like securing permits, installation, design, and maintenance currently account for up to 40 percent of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.
The DOE reports: “There are currently more than 18,000 local jurisdictions with their own PV permitting requirements, land use codes and zoning ordinances; more than 5,000 utilities that are implementing standards for connecting and selling energy back to the energy grid; and all 50 states are developing their own connection standards and processes for supplying and pricing energy sold back to the grid.”
Employing a “race to the top” model, 22 teams will implement step-by-step actions to standardize permit processes, update planning and zoning codes, improve standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid, and increase access to financing.
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