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

January 09, 2013

Rooftop Solar Challenge II Gets $12 Million Energy-Department Backing

The Energy Department on December 20 announced $12 million in new funding for the Rooftop Solar Challenge II, which will support projects that make solar energy businesses more efficient. The funding opportunity builds on the success of 2011's Rooftop Solar Challenge and is part of the Department's broader efforts to spur solar power deployment by making it easier, faster, and cheaper to finance and install solar energy systems.

The challenges are aimed at streamlining and standardizing local permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes and improving finance options to lower costs for residential and small commercial rooftop solar energy systems. Through the first round, 22 regional teams have worked to dramatically reduce the non-hardware or soft costs of solar. This has included standardizing installation and permitting fees across multiple jurisdictions, establishing group purchasing discounts, and expanding online permitting. These soft costs can comprise 40% of the cost of going solar. The teams selected for round two, which may include teams selected in the first round, will be evaluated throughout a two-and-a-half-year project period using solar market maturity models developed by the Department's SunShot Initiative. See the Energy Department Progress Alert.