This is an excerpt from the October 18, 2012: Planting solar seeds, race to the rooftops, and solar on public lands update edition of the SunShot newsletter.
A Little SunShot Funding Grows a Long Way
What's in a name? For Grow Solar Wisconsin, the answer includes a number of things. Grow Solar Wisconsin is a team of Wisconsin cities, nonprofits, and other organizations that received a $500,000 award through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge. This ongoing collaboration is working to reduce the "soft costs" of solar energy systems, which can make up as much as 40% of the total installed cost. In addition, and perhaps most notably, the name reflects the ongoing synergies that have grown from the seeds of small competitive DOE funding awards.
Last week, Grow Solar Wisconsin hosted a large industry event in Madison demonstrating the power of these synergies. The 2012 Solar Powering Your Community Conference was inspired by the Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments publication, a resource created to help communities navigate the complexities of implementing and financing a single shared solar energy system.
Bringing together diverse industry and community experts, the conference was both a premier training and networking opportunity for local officials from municipalities and states. It featured breakout sessions in topics such as permitting, net metering and interconnection standards, third-party ownership, training and labor market development, and financing.
"SunShot is about bringing the right people to the table to move solar installations into the mainstream, cheaply and safely," said Minh Le, Acting SunShot Director. “Local communities can use a small amount of federal support to shape creative programming, such as the Milwaukee Power Pack, that boosts clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and local solar-related jobs."
Concurrently, a free Solar 3.0 training workshop for building and electrical code officials was held that featured presentations by SolarTech, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL). In this accredited program, attendees learned NEC and IBC code-compliant installation procedures for residential solar rooftop installations, reducing inspection time and costs. They also earned continuing education credits.
By harnessing the excitement and momentum of multiple efforts funded through the SunShot Initiative, the Solar Powering Your Community Conference provided unique interactive resources to help local governments and stakeholders design and implement strategic local solar plans that can ultimately surmount the barriers to widespread adoption of solar technologies.
"Wisconsin is taking steps now to build a strong, cost-effective energy and manufacturing hub for solar power," said Le. "Incrementally, we're seeing many SunShot-supported local collaborations build the clean energy future."
For more information on how to develop collaborative solar projects, download the following publications.
A Guide to Community Shared Solar: Utility, Private, and Nonprofit Project Development is a comprehensive resource to assist local governments and stakeholders in building sustainable local solar markets.
The Solarize Guidebook: A Community Guide to Collective Purchasing of Residential PV Systems helps communities overcome implementation barriers and seize volume discounts through collective solar purchasing.