SunRun report pinpoints how local governments inadvertently add to cost of home solar installations

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SunRun has published and submitted its new report, “The Impact of Local Permitting on the Cost of Solar Power” to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) per the DOE’s request for rough data on non-equipment solar costs. Per SunRun’s report, local governments can save US$1 billion over the next five years while making solar installations more affordable for 50% of American homes by fixing the inconsistency in local solar permitting and inspection processes.

“Every city and town has its own set of regulations and requirements for solar installations. Our research identifies inconsistencies in local permitting as one of the most critical roadblocks to a sustainable, subsidy-free solar industry,” said SunRun CEO and Co-founder Edward Fenster. “To tackle this challenge head-on, the DOE can use existing guidelines it has already funded to standardize local permitting and deliver the equivalent of a new US$1 billion solar subsidy over five years.”

The report notes that the permit and inspection process adds an average of US$2,500 per home solar installation. During research for the report, SunRun continuously found that solar installers nationwide faulted local permitting as the biggest barrier they face on installations. As a resolution for some of the problems they discovered, SunRun has suggested that the DOE launch a Residential Solar Permitting Initiative, which starting in high-volume cities can offer grant rewards for cities that make solar more cost effective and strive to improve the local permitting process.

SunRun points to the numbers for support on its solution. The report observes that Germany, in comparison with the U.S., has a more simplified process for local permitting. This accounts for solar installation costs to be 40% lower in Germany than in the U.S., which also explains how Germany reportedly established one million new home solar power installation over the past two years, while the U.S. only has 120,00 homes that have ever installed solar power.

“Local permitting red tape keeps solar off of millions of American homes and businesses and seriously jeopardizes our ability to be competitive with entrenched fossil fuels,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “Policymakers need to recognize that these additional costs put an undue burden on new, clean technologies like solar that are trying to create jobs in the U.S.”

SunRun’s report is under review with the DOE and is available here.

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