As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy and double renewable electricity generation once again by 2020, the US Department of Energy is leading the SunShot Initiative to drive research, manufacturing, and market solutions to make the abundant solar energy resources in the United States more affordable and accessible for Americans.
As part of this effort, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) has been selected as one of nine regional teams to help homes, businesses, and municipalities cut red tape for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems. Though solar modules now cost about 1% of what they did 35 years ago, non-hardware costs such as permitting, installation, design, and financing now account for more than 60 per cent of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic systems in the United States. Across the nation, there are more than 18,000 local jurisdictions with their own PV permitting requirements. Plus, there are more than 5,000 utilities that set rules for connecting to the power grid.
The federal support of $1.87 million will be matched with more than $480,000 of private, local, and state support to advance activities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan that: 1) facilitate the adoption of solar permitting, planning, and zoning best practices by municipalities; 2) develop model finance arrangements for solar installations; 3) build workforce capacity to properly design, sell, and interconnect code-compliant PV systems; and 4) improve rules, standards and policies to provide a framework for sustainable solar market growth.