The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $12 million in funding to its Rooftop Solar Challenge, which aims to streamline and standardize the permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes, as well as improve finance options to reduce barriers and lower costs for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge is part of the DOE's larger SunShot initiative, which is designed to spur solar energy development in the U.S. Using a ‘race to the top’ model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge encourages the regional awardees to address the differing and expensive permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes required to install and finance residential and small commercial solar systems.
The 22 diverse teams bring together city, county and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for the rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the country.
The teams will implement step-by-step actions to standardize permitting processes, update planning and zoning codes, improve standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid, and increase access to financing.
"Through this competition, the Energy Department is helping to unleash America's solar potential by investing in projects that will make it faster, easier and cheaper to finance and deploy solar power in communities across the country," says DOE Secretary Steven Chu." These awards will reduce the cost homeowners and businesses pay to install solar energy systems while, at the same time, saving money and time for local governments faced with tight budgets."