In an industry always looking for the cheapest install price, solar has a long way to go to bring down soft costs. Local governments control some key variables that can ratchet up those costs, including high solar permitting fees and long turnaround times, unfriendly zoning ordinances and more.
Cities without streamlined solar processes can lose out on solar development because installers avoid the area or residents don’t bother investing in rooftop solar, knowing the process is costly and tedious. A federally funded program called SolSmart aims to fix that.
“SolSmart is mainly a solar soft cost reduction program, and it’s important, because about 64% of all solar costs come from soft costs. And these are costs associated with all the non-hardware parts of going solar. So, permitting fees, labor, zoning issues, things like that,” said Zach Greene, program director and SolSmart leader at The Solar Foundation. “By working with these local governments, by educating them, by providing them with consulting-type resources, we’re really able to help them reduce those costs at the local level and to really try to expand a local solar market.” [click for full article]