Inconsistent local solar permitting and inspection processes add an average of over $2,500 per home installation, according to a new report from home energy provider SunRun. The company's report, titled ‘The Impact of Local Permitting on the Cost of Solar Power,’ was created in response to the Department of Energy's (DOE) request for granular data on non-equipment solar costs.
‘Every city and town has its own set of regulations and requirements for solar installations,’ says SunRun CEO and Co-founder Edward Fenster. ‘Our research identifies inconsistencies in local permitting as one of the most critical roadblocks to a sustainable, subsidy-free solar industry.
‘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 $1 billion solar subsidy over five years,’ he continues.
According to the report, solar installers nationwide have stated repeatedly that local permitting is the most stubborn cost they face. By comparison, some countries, such as Germany, have simpler processes that keep solar installation costs up to 40% lower than in the U.S.
Germany reports about one million new home solar power installations in the past two years alone, whereas the total number of homes with solar installation in the U.S. has just broken 120,000. SunRun's report recommends the DOE lead a new Residential Solar Permitting Initiative, starting with high-volume cities that impact more than 50% of the solar market. The recommendations include a contest with grant rewards for cities that make the most effective and comprehensive improvements.
A coalition of 22 installers from across the U.S. endorses this paper, as do industry organizations such as The Sierra Club, SolarTech and Vote Solar, SunRun notes. The report is currently under review with the DOE and available here.