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

June 08, 2011

Unleashing Rooftop Solar Energy through More Efficient Government

Across the country, the race is on to drive down the cost of solar energy. And, a new challenge through DOE's SunShot Initiative could help slash the costs even faster. DOE is challenging cities and counties to compete nationwide to cut the red tape that can push up the price tags on solar energy projects.

One of the highest hurdles for would-be investors in residential and small commercial solar energy installations is navigating the differing and expensive administrative processes required to get their solar panels from the drawing board to the rooftop. On June 1, DOE announced a new challenge in which teams of local and regional governments compete for funds to help drive down administrative barriers to residential and small commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar installations by streamlining, standardizing, and digitizing their administrative processes. The Rooftop Solar Challenge will also spur participating cities and states across the nation to enable innovative financing programs to help homeowners and entrepreneurs install solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. Up to 40% of the total cost of a solar energy system is the result of balance-of-system costs, which include the capital required to pay for siting, permitting, and installing a solar energy project and connecting it to the grid.

By challenging local governments to cut their upfront fees and paperwork and to standardize their permitting processes, the challenge will not only reduce the cost to homeowners and businesses of installing solar energy systems, but it will also save money and time for local governments already struggling with tight budgets. See the Energy Blog post.