The initiative, the Rooftop Solar Challenge, is designed to reduce bureaucratic red tape on a major obstacle to solar development in the United States – the “soft” costs for things such as permitting, installation, design and maintenance – which are estimated to account for more than 60 percent of the total cost of rooftop solar.
Launched in February 2012, the program is part of the Obama administration’s “SunShot Initiative.” The first round of the program funded 22 regional teams across the country that cut permitting time by 40 percent and reduced permitting costs by 12 percent for more than 47 million Americans, according to DOE.
IAMU is a participant in the second round of the program. In this round, eight teams will receive about $12 million – matched by about $4 million in outside funds, some of which came from the APPA Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments program – “to streamline and standardize solar permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes for communities across the country,” according to DOE.
The IAMU program, entitled the Iowa Statewide Solar Readiness Initiative, will receive $1.03 million for a collaborative effort to promote solar energy adoption in Iowa. IAMU and the Iowa Economic Development Authority will “work with communities, utilities, and other solar stakeholders to develop educational materials, identify policy barriers and potential solutions, create an online solar toolbox, perform individual market barrier assessments for pilot communities, and create customized community action plans,” according to DOE.
“Responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and will help ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Today, solar modules cost about 1 percent of what they did 35 years ago, and permitting and interconnection are an increasingly large portion of overall solar system costs. Through the Rooftop Solar Challenge, the Energy Department is helping to make the deployment of solar power in communities across the country faster, easier and cheaper – saving money and time for local governments, homeowners and businesses.”
For more on the SunShot Initiative, the Rooftop Solar Challenge, and to view the full list of the Rooftop Solar Challenge teams and their projects, visit the Sunshot initiative website.This article first appeared in Public Power Daily from the American Public Power Association.