Denver is First ‘Solar Friendly Community’

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DENVER RECOGNIZED AS FIRST SOLAR FRIENDLY COMMUNITY 

(Press Release, Nov 27) The City and County of Denver is the first municipality to be recognized as a Solar Friendly Community under an innovative new program designed to help bring down the costs of solar energy.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock accepted the award at a ceremony November 27 at the City and County Building. Denver earned the gold level designation through its leading practices in making solar energy faster, easier and more affordable for residents.

“We are honored and delighted to be the first to earn this recognition for our efforts in making our city friendly to solar energy,” said Mayor Hancock. “We believe solar energy is an important part of our community’s future, and our hope is this recognition will lead to a variety of environmental and economic development benefits.”

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 1600 “solar points” if they implement all of the suggested solar friendly practices, with recognition starting at 700 points. Denver scored 1275 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.

“Denver provides a great model on how a large city can make it easy for solar installers to do business,” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for Solar Friendly Communities. “The streamlined permitting, inspection and educational practices translate into lower costs for consumers and a more welcoming climate for solar energy.”

Solar permitting and inspection requirements vary dramatically across Colorado’s more than 200 cities and towns, 64 counties and 65 utilities. The Solar Friendly Communities program aims to assist local governments by offering a menu of options that can help communities shave off extra time and cost while respecting each community’s unique needs.

Costs of the hardware of rooftop solar systems-such as panels-have dropped up to 70 percent in just three years. But the “soft” costs including permitting, installation, regulatory and other related costs have not dropped and now account for up to 40 percent of the total cost of rooftop solar system.

According to a recent report by SunRun, local permitting and inspection processes add about $2,500 to the cost of each residential system. Streamlining processes and bringing those costs down will bring down the cost of solar.

“We are hoping that other communities in Colorado and elsewhere will realize that by following some relatively simple best practices, they can make life easier for city officials and customers as well as for solar installers,” said Neal Lurie, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. “The more transparent and standardized we can make the process, the better able we’ll be to accommodate the projected rapid increase in demand for solar energy.”

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Photo Credit: Hit and Run Blog; President Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden tour the solar installation on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Photo Credit: Hit and Run Blog; President Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden tour the solar installation on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

(Press Release, Nov 28) COSEIA is partnering with local governments to streamline solar permitting and adopt best practices.

Yesterday we celebrated an exciting milestone for the solar industry by recognizing Denver as the first Solar Friendly Community in Colorado for its efforts to help bring down the costs of solar.

You may have seen the news coverage in the Denver Post or Denver Business Journal.

The COSEIA-led effort honored Denver for its leading practices in making solar energy faster, easier and more affordable for residents.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock accepted the gold-level award at a ceremony November 27 at the City and County Building.

“We are honored and delighted to be the first to earn this recognition for our efforts in making our city friendly to solar energy,” said Mayor Hancock. “We believe solar energy is an important part of our community’s future, and our hope is this recognition will lead to a variety of environmental and economic development benefits.”

We were also pleased to announce a tangible benefit for participating in the program.

COSEIA member Real Goods Solar is now offering discounts to customers in Denver, and in other cities that earn designation as Solar Friendly Communities, because the systems will cost less as a result of the program. With a lower cost of doing business in these communities, Real Goods plans to pass along the savings to customers.

Another member, SunTalk Solar, has also agreed to offer a similar discount.

Will your organization join the discount program to help encourage more cities to become Solar Friendly Communities?

We think it will provide a great incentive for other communities to adopt practices that lower soft costs.

Let us know if you are interested by simply responding to this email.

Solar Friendly Communities is based on “12 Best Practices: A Roadmap to a Solar Friendly Community” which was developed with industry and community partners. It offers a menu of steps communities can take to streamline permitting, inspections and to educate citizens about solar.

Cities and counties can earn up to 1600 points if they implement all of the suggested solar friendly practices, with recognition starting at 700 points.

Denver scored 1275 points, a gold level recognition, because of the progressive policies it adopted. They include: posting its requirements online, offering low-cost, same-day permits, streamlining inspections and providing a variety of educational materials about solar energy to residents.

COSEIA is one of 22 teams around the nation awarded a Rooftop Solar Challenge grant under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. Partners include Rocky Mountain Institute, the American Solar Energy Society, the City and County of Denver, Boulder County and the cities of Fort Collins and Golden.

We are seeing increasing interest in the program.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments and the Metro Mayors Caucus recently sponsored a workshop on the program attended by representatives of about 15 communities.

We plan to present to the Colorado Municipal League in June. We have heard from Rooftop Solar Challenge teams in Arizona, California, Utah and New York interested in the program.

We hope to spread this work far and wide because we believe it offers a real hope in making solar energy more affordable by collaborating with local communities.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Cantwell

PS. Your support is key to expanding this powerful program. If you haven’t yet joined COSEIA or renewed your membership please do so today: http://coseia.org/join/

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