The U.S. Government Encourages Communities to Go Solar

Among the recommendations: Use tech tools to speed up permitting

Solar energy adoption in the U.S is growing fast; almost half of all the new generating capacity that comes online nationwide in 2022 is expected to come from solar. But if the country is going to hit its current goal of 100% clean electricity generation by 2035, there’s still a lot more that local communities will need to do to make going solar easier and more attractive to homeowners and businesses.

A few weeks ago the Department of Energy released the third version of Solar Power in Your Community, a guidebook for local governments explaining the economic and environmental upsides to promoting solar. It includes case studies on removing barriers to solar adoption, strategies for making solar more accessible to less advantaged demographics, and strategies for maximizing solar’s benefits.

One of the most notable recommendations in the guidebook is for local governments to make the solar permitting process more efficient by using SolarAPP+, a Web-based tool developed by the DoE which launched last July. The guidebook cites case studies from five communities in Arizona and California using SolarAPP+, showing that the average permit review time was just one day and that on average solar installs were completed almost two weeks faster.

Although the costs of going solar have dropped dramatically since the first edition of Solar Power in Your Community was released in 2009, the administrative side of the process hasn’t adapted to meet increased demand. The red tape associated with going solar can still be burdensome, and is often the single biggest cause of delays in the install process. The problem has become worse during the pandemic, when many local government offices have been under-staffed.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the DoE’s recommendations on promoting solar energy, you can find the full guidebook and an executive summary here. If you haven’t already done so, follow us on social media to make sure you don’t miss any of the latest news on government solar policy relevant to homeowners.

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