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

December 07, 2011

DOE Awards $12 Million in the Rooftop Solar Challenge

Photo of solar panels on a building roof.

The SunShot Initiative's Rooftop Solar Challenge will boost installation of solar panels like these shown on a Chicago building.
Credit: Social Security Administration

DOE announced on December 1 its $12 million in funding for the awardees of the Rooftop Solar Challenge. The Challenge supports 22 regional teams in 18 states to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape. The effort streamlines and standardizes permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes, while also improves finance options for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems. This project is part DOE's SunShot Initiative, and is designed to make solar energy more accessible and affordable, increase domestic solar deployment, and position the United States as a leader in the global solar market.

Using a "race to the top" model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge incentivizes the regional awardees to address the differing and expensive permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems. The 22 teams bring together city, county, and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities, and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the country. The 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. Non-hardware costs like permitting, installation, design, and maintenance currently account for up to 40% of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic systems in the United States.

The SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. See the DOE press release, a complete list of awardees, and the SunShot Initiative website.

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