NREL Partners With Solar Stakeholders On New Permit Software

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The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are joining the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), several national residential solar companies, and other nonprofit organizations to develop new automated permit software for distributed solar and storage.

NREL was awarded $695,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Technology Transitions, Technology Commercialization Fund to develop and deploy the Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) software platform. The intent is to dramatically reduce the time and cost of the permitting application review and approval process – which, in turn, could decrease customer cancellation rates and expand solar development, the partners say.

Besides SEIA and The Solar Foundation, partners working with NREL on the SolarAPP software include the California Solar + Storage Association, the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, SunPower, Sunrun, Tesla, and Vivint Solar.

These groups are active participants in the SolarAPP Campaign, a national initiative of The Solar Foundation and SEIA that seeks a fundamental reshaping of solar permitting at the federal, state and local levels. The goal is to allow most routine rooftop solar projects to receive instantaneous approval and efficient inspections while enhancing safety and reliability.

“The SolarAPP platform will help local governments reduce administrative burdens and make it faster and easier for customers to go solar,” explains Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation. “At a time when accelerating the deployment of solar and storage has never been more urgent, this platform fills a critical market need.”

“Inefficient permitting can cause frustration and added costs for Americans who just want to go solar,” adds Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “A streamlined, easy-to-use solution such as SolarAPP can cut down on burdensome applications and connect solar projects to the grid faster. A more reliable permitting experience will help both inspectors and solar customers save time and money without sacrificing safety or quality. We’re thrilled to see SolarAPP get financial backing from the Department of Energy and will continue to actively support this important initiative.”

The SolarAPP initiative builds on previous and existing programs to reduce soft costs, including the SolSmart program, which provides designation and no-cost technical assistance for local governments to open up solar markets.

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