The City and County of Denver is the first municipality to be recognized as a Solar Friendly Community under a new program designed to help bring down the costs of solar energy, according to Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.
Denver earned a gold level designation through its leading practices in making solar energy faster, easier and more affordable for residents. Solar Friendly Communities is one of 22 teams around the nation awarded a Rooftop Solar Challenge grant under the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative.
The program is a collaborative effort led by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and includes the Rocky Mountain Institute, the American Solar Energy Society, the City and County of Denver, Boulder County and the cities of Fort Collins and Golden.
The program works to advance solar-friendly practices around solar permitting and inspection, as well as to make communities more welcoming to solar energy. Cities and counties can earn up to 1,600 ‘solar points’ if they implement all of the suggested solar friendly practices, with recognition starting at 700 points.Â
Denver scored 1,275 points, a gold-level recognition, because of the progressive policies it adopted, including posting its requirements online, offering low-cost, same-day permits, streamlining inspections and providing a variety of educational materials about solar energy to residents.
Costs of the hardware of rooftop solar systems have dropped up to 70% in just three years, but the 'soft' costs – including permitting, installation, regulatory and other related costs – now account for up to 40% of the total cost of rooftop solar system, the mayor's office says.