This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 04, 2011

25 Cities Meet to Discuss How to Bring More Solar to Market

Representatives from 25 cities around the nation gathered in Philadelphia from April 25 to 28 for the 4th annual Solar America Cities meeting to share findings on emerging trends in urban energy use and to discuss solutions to local solar barriers, such as zoning, financing and unwieldy permitting processes. At the conference, DOE's Acting Under Secretary of Energy Dr. Arun Majumdar announced a request for information (RFI) for a solar challenge specifically designed to address permitting issues in cities. The RFI will foster solutions to help eliminate barriers to solar market development, save customers time and money, and accelerate the adoption of solar energy in communities nationwide.

Improving local permitting processes can make it easier for residents and businesses to pursue solar installations and can significantly drive down the total cost of solar projects. Unfortunately, permitting processes and requirements vary greatly between jurisdictions, and local inexperience with photovoltaics has led to inconsistent enforcement of requirements. This can add time and costs, not only for the installers but also for the system owners. According to a January 2011 report by SunRun, local permitting, inspection, and utility interconnection processes can add more than $2,500 to the cost of each residential installation. See the Energy Blog post.