Poor Solar Permitting Rules Increase Residential Solar Prices by Up To 20 Percent

Date: 10 Feb 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

A new report from SunRun recently revealed that permitting can significantly increase the cost of residential solar PV projects, adding as much as 20 percent to total project costs.  One large solar installer in California has two full-time “runners” whose entire job is dedicated to taking solar permit applications to city offices that require an in-person submission.

The problem of permit costs looms ever larger as solar module and installation costs fall, making permitting an even larger portion of project costs.  The adjacent chart illustrates the cost of permitting for residential solar PV, based on the size and cost per Watt of the project.  SunRun found average permitting costs of $2,500 per project.

Fortunately, there are already best-practice standards for solar permitting from the Solar America Board of Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs), and the SunRun report finds that implementing these practices can reduce permitting costs by 75 percent, to around $600.  The following table, taken from the report, details how the savings can be achieved.  The cost savings can be achieved across nearly every category of the permitting process:

For comparison, the following chart illustrates the substantial difference in the portion of project costs related to permitting when best practices are implemented.

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John Farrell
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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.

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