OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce received a $2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative to make rooftop solar installations easier, faster and less expensive for residents of Washington and Oregon.
The funding will remove hurdles for solar photovoltaic installers across the two states, and increase financing options to make solar energy affordable for all residents.
The Northwest is a promising market for solar energy, but adoption has been hampered in part by regulatory processes and standards that are overlapping, inconsistent or inefficient between jurisdictions and authorities.
“This funding will help reduce red tape, increase opportunities for businesses, and cut energy costs for thousands of households across Washington and Oregon,” said Governor Jay Inslee.
Washington has already made substantial progress in reducing time, cost and frustration for builders and homeowner by standardizing and streamlining permitting, interconnection with the electrical grid, zoning, and financing of rooftop solar systems. Over the past year, four cities and the utilities that serve them, have adopted standardized codes and regulations for solar installations.
Seattle, Bellevue, Edmonds and Ellensburg were the first to adopt the new standards, which were developed in collaboration with industry stakeholders, governments and utilities. In addition, the State Building Code Council and other state agencies provided guidance to ensure the standardized requirements address diverse regulatory concerns.
The DOE award includes funding to support 10 more jurisdictions in becoming “Northwest Solar Communities” – communities that will offer streamlined permitting to over two million people in the two-state region.
“With local governments leading the way, the Pacific Northwest Solar Partnership will provide an example of how a region with low electric prices and seasonal solar resource can accelerate solar installations,” said Jennifer Grove from Northwest SEED, a regional non-profit that is leading the team. The Pacific Northwest Solar Partnership requires close collaboration to synchronize requirements across the region.
The Rooftop Solar Challenge II empowers teams to make it easier and more affordable for Americans to go solar through support for streamlining permit processes, updating planning and zoning codes, improving standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid, and increasing access to financing. Eight local, state, regional and national teams will clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the nation. The Rooftop Solar Challenge II is part of the SunShot Initiative, which strives to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Learn more at http://www.eere.energy.gov/solarchallenge/
Through SunShot, DOE supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.
Project website: http://nwsolarcommunities.org/
Commerce is the lead state agency charged with enhancing and promoting sustainable community and economic vitality in Washington. For more information, visit www.commerce.wa.gov
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