Local governments should work together to streamline their approval process for homeowners who want to go solar. Sign the petition.
Due to the dramatic decrease in the cost of solar panels and other solar hardware in recent years, home rooftop solar installations have become much more affordable, prompting more Minnesotans to go solar. But the hardware only represents about one-third of the total cost. The non-hardware costs, or “soft costs,” include the cost of permitting, inspections, and interconnection.If our communities cut red-tape and streamline these administrative regulations, we could lower the cost of going solar by as much as $500 for a typical system. Best practices for streamlining the permitting process can be easy for municipalities to implement. Ten Minnesota municipalities, including Austin, Chisago County, Hutchinson, Pine City, St. Francis, and Stearns County, have already taken advantage of a federal program to improve access to solar. The Sol Smart program provides free technical assistance to communities, and in Minnesota, it is administered by the Clean Energy Resource Teams and Great Plains Institute.As a solar supporter, I encourage my municipality to:
· Create and make available an online checklist detailing the steps of our community’s solar permitting process.
· Provide a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems with turn-around time of no more than three days.
These common-sense actions will show that our local government encourages and supports locally-generated clean energy and greater access to solar for all.