Monday, Jul 01 2019
NREL receives funding to develop automated permit software with industry and nonprofit partners
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and The Solar Foundation 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, reducing the cost of solar installations and saving resources for local governments and taxpayers. \
REL was awarded $695,000 in new funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s 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 will decrease customer cancellation rates and expand solar energy development and solar job growth nationwide.
The partners working with NREL on the SolarAPP software include installation companies as well as key nonprofit organizations and trade associations. Partners include the California Solar + Storage Association, Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS), Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, SunPower, Sunrun, Tesla, and Vivint Solar.
These groups are active participants in the SolarAPP Campaign, a national initiative of The Solar Foundation and SEIA which 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. “Over the past decade, NREL research has shown that while the cost of PV modules and other hardware has declined, nonhardware ‘soft’ costs remain relatively constant. The SolarAPP software will help address key soft cost challenges by providing both AHJs and installers a standardized online portal to complete and manage permitting and inspection processes,” said Kristen Ardani, Solar Analysis Sub-program Lead at NREL. “We look forward to serving the critical role of an independent, third-party developer of the SolarAPP portal.” “The SolarAPP platform will help local governments reduce administrative burdens and make it faster and easier for customers to go solar,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “At a time when accelerating the deployment of solar and storage has never been ore urgent, this platform fills a critical market need.” “Inefficient permitting can cause frustration and added costs for Americans who just want to go solar,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “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.”
While the cost of residential solar installations has decreased more than 70% over the last ten years, costs are still much higher in the United States than in other mature markets, largely due to non-hardware “soft costs.” The direct and indirect costs of permitting, inspection, and interconnection, including efforts spent acquiring customers who cancel before a permit is issued, can add about $1 per Watt, or $7,000, to the cost of a typical residential system.
Nationwide, there are over 20,000 authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) with distinct permitting and inspection requirements, application costs, and approval times. The SolarAPP platform will provide a streamlined process that will increase efficiency and reduce the time and cost of a solar permit, leading in turn to lower cancellation rates. “Sunrun is proud to partner with NREL, The Solar Foundation, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and other industry partners to support the development of the Solar Automated Permit Software for Distributed PV and Battery Storage,” said Alex McDonough, Vice President of Public Policy at Sunrun. “This resource will help companies like Sunrun cut red tape and reduce their costs to deliver significantly more affordable, reliable, local clean energy solutions to communities around the country.”
“The SolarAPP will make it faster and easier for homeowners to get clean, affordable solar energy, and Vivint Solar is pleased to partner with NREL, The Solar Foundation, SEIA and other industry advocates to develop this technology,” said David Bywater, CEO of Vivint Solar, a leading national solar provider. “Vivint Solar is committed to making high quality solar more accessible to Americans by joining with the industry to cut the cost and streamline the process of solar permitting.” This platform will also benefit local governments, which face budget constraints and growing workloads to keep up with the accelerated pace of solar energy development. Automated permitting will reduce time spent and increase permit revenues, allowing AHJs to focus their resources on post-installation and inspections.
The SolarAPP platform will build on existing software capabilities at NREL to do the following:
- Provide a flexible, web-based solar permitting tool for residential systems.
- Encourage the standardization of permitting processes, while allowing for some flexibility to produce applications that meet the specific requirements of AHJs.
- Evaluate applications and design plans for safety certification and code compliance.
- Offer opportunities to incorporate energy storage and expand to other market segments, such as solar thermal and commercial systems.
The SolarAPP initiative builds on previous and existing programs to reduce soft costs, including the SolSmart program that provides designation and no-cost technical assistance for local governments to open up solar markets. For more information about the SolarAPP campaign, visit https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/solarapp/.
About SEIA®: Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® isbuilding a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
About The Solar Foundation®
The Solar Foundation® is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit
organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of the
world’s most abundant energy source. Through its leadership,
research, and capacity building, The Solar Foundation creates
transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in
which solar and solar-compatible technologies are integrated
into all aspects of our lives. Learn more
Thursday, Jul 25 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) today introduced companion bills with a five-year 30% extension of Section 48 and Section 25D Solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC). The Renewable Energy Extension Act will call for the extension of the tax credits.
Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, urging lawmakers to pass this critical legislation:
“These bills are clear, easy wins members of Congress can deliver to their constituents that create jobs, bolster the economy and address climate change. Polling shows that Americans across the political spectrum are concerned about our changing climate and they strongly support solar.
“Since 2005, when the ITC was first passed by the Republican-led Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, the ITC has created hundreds of thousands of jobs, sparked more than $140 billion in private investment and helped grow solar deployment by more than 10,000%.
“Now is not the time to turn our backs on this American success story. The ITC is the strongest policy there is to support clean energy development, grow the economy, create jobs, and meaningfully cut emissions.
“We are grateful to Sen. Cortez Masto, Rep.Thompson, Rep. Cook and Rep. Fitzpatrick for their leadership and are eager to build on the bipartisan support this legislation already enjoys. In the next several months, we look forward to working with all members of Congress to move this legislation over the finish line.”
Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
Morgan Lyons, SEIA’s Senior Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org (202) 556-2872
By Sarah Ravani
San Francisco Chronicle
Berkeley became the first city nationwide to ban the use of natural gas in new low-rise residential buildings in a unanimous vote Tuesday by the City Council.
The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Kate Harrison, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and phases out the use of natural gas by requiring all new single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings to have electric infrastructure. After its passage, Harrison thanked the community and her colleagues “for making Berkeley the first city in California and the United States to prohibit natural gas infrastructure in new buildings.”
The city will include commercial buildings and larger residential structures as the state moves to develop regulations for those, officials said. The ordinance allocates $273,341 per year for a two-year staff position in the Building and Safety Division within the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The employee will be responsible for implementing the ban.
“I’m proud to vote on groundbreaking legislation to prohibit natural gas in new buildings,” Mayor Jesse Arreguín said on Twitter. “We are committed to the #ParisAgreement and must take immediate action in order to reach our climate action goals. It’s not radical, it’s necessary.” The ordinance applies to buildings that have been reviewed by the California Energy Commission and determined to meet state requirements and regulations if they are electric only, said Ben Gould, the chairman of Berkeley’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission.
Gould said he spoke as a private citizen and not as a representative of the commission.
Those buildings are low-rise residential buildings, which include single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings. Therefore, Berkeley’s ordinance only applies to those buildings, but as the state approves more building types, the city will follow, Gould said. The way the ordinance is written, the city’s regulations will update as the state commission approves more building models without having to return to the City Council for a vote.
“We need to find ways to move forward innovative groundbreaking climate policy,” he said. “This policy is really important and critical. It helps address one of the largest sources of emissions in Berkeley.” In 2009, the city adopted a Climate Action Plan that aimed to reduce emissions by 33% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The plan also commits
the city to using 100% renewable electricity by 2035.
In June 2018, the council declared a climate emergency and called for a review of Berkeley’s greenhouse emission reduction strategies. The city determined in a report last year that gas-related emissions have increased due to an 18% population growth since 2000. The report also concluded that the burning of natural gas within city buildings
accounted for 27% of Berkeley’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016.
As the city’s population soars, the need for more housing has also increased. From 2014 to 2017, the Planning Department approved building permits for 525 residential units and 925 built units were approved for occupancy. More housing is expected, particularly with the Adeline Corridor Plan, which calls for the construction of 1,400 units along Adeline Street and a portion of South Shattuck Avenue. Electric-only buildings prevent the installation of natural gas pipes and instead install heat pumps and induction cooking, Gould said. “Think about a refrigerator and how it makes inside your refrigerator cold and blows hot air out of somewhere else,” Gould said. “A heat pump works like that, but in reverse. It takes outside air and emits cold air outside and provides hot air inside. They can also be flipped in reverse and work as an air conditioner.”
Induction cooking transfers heat directly to any magnetic cookware, including cast-iron and steel, without using radiation. “It transfers heat right to the pot,” Gould said. “It boils water faster than anything else that exists. It’s very even, very quick to respond.” At Tuesday’s meeting, Harrison’s staff demonstrated the use of an induction cooktop by making chocolate fondue. The staff placed a piece of paper between the stove and the pot to show its safety features. The pot turned hot, but the paper didn’t burn, Gould said. The ordinance restricts developers applying for land-use permits from building anything that includes gas infrastructure, including gas piping to heat water, space and food.
Accessory dwelling units — built-in basements or attics of existing homes — are exempt from the ordinance. A public interest exemption may also be allowed if the council or the Zoning Adjustments Board determines that the use of natural gas is necessary.
Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email:
email@example.com Twitter: @SarRavani
According to a research note issued by Credit Suisse, the ITC or Investment Tax Credit, which will sunset at the end of 2016, may not see that sunset yet. The note mentions a building momentum in Congress for it to be added to tax extenders legislation at the same time as the world meets to discuss Climate Change in Paris this week. It certainly would look good for the US to take such action at this time and show that they will put their money where there mouths are.
For more on this subject, click here.
There are other ways the ITC could be saved as well. GTM analyst Cory Honeyman said there was more than one shape for an extension to take.
“It’s my understanding that there is opportunity for an extension to the ITC in a formal, comprehensive tax extenders bill, and opportunities to put the commence construction rule in an omnibus spending bill sometime in 2016.
“There could be one-off legislation that extends the ITC on its own but that’s a harder process as opposed to being bundled with other tax extenders. There are definatly a number of periods of time until the end of 2016 and a few different mechanisms that could extend it in some kind of fashion,” said Honeyman.
The New Mexico PRC has filed a Notice of Inquiry, stating that they will be looking into whether public utilities constructing and owning distributed generation facilities that are dedicated to serving one or more specific retail customers might provide net benefits or detriments to consumers, the environment, public utilities and the public interest. They are trying to determine if the Commission should encourage or discourage such arrangements.
For the complete pdf of their filing, please click below.
With solar themed workshops ranging from the Homeowners Guide to Photovoltaics to DIY Tech and the Future of Renewable energy, there will be something for everyone, regardless of their experience with PV and solar technologies! Bring the family to the CNM Workforce Training Center, I-25 and Alameda, on September 26th. The Solar Fiesta starts at 10am and lasts until 5pm. Hope to see you there!
Click on the above image for the downloadable PDF of this year’s schedule and click here for the Workshop Descriptions PDF.
Unlike PNM’s previous rate request, which was rejected by the five-member PRC commission in May, the new case does not call for a new fee for solar customers to connect to the grid. The solar fee would have ranged from $21 to $26.
“We did not feel that it would be productive to include it in the refiled rate case given the need to implement the new rates in a timely manner,” a PNM spokeswoman said.
For the full application, please click this file- 04_Application (OCR)
The new “NM Solar Installed” map from the EMNRD.
EMNRD, Energy Conservation and Management Division
1220 South St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Landmark regulatory memo rejects the APS net metering proposal.
Staff experts for Arizona’s utility regulators have come out against a proposal by Arizona Public Service, the state’s biggest electricity provider, to alter the solar net metering incentive.
Read more on greentechsolar: Click Here