Lower Solar Panel Costs With the 10 Million Solar Roofs Act
We all want lower solar panel costs, right? Well, in Washington, D.C., new legislation has been introduced to help streamline local permitting of solar arrays, allowing property owners to go solar with less expense, hassle and delay.
The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act, a bipartisan proposal, would literally award communities that make it easier to obtain permits for solar installations with grants and subsidies. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) hope that the proposed bill helps boost the quickly growing solar industry in the U.S., while encouraging consumers that would otherwise be wary of solar panel costs.
In a press release, Sen. Sanders said:
“This legislation will make it more affordable for families and businessesto install solar, by helping communities reduce the costs associated with solar energy permitting. … [The bill] sets strong targets for American solar energy production, to ensure we compete vigorously with China and Europe for solar energy jobs.”
Solar panel costs have already fallen over the past few years as demand and production have risen, the cost of manufacturing materials has fallen, and tax incentives have helped defray investment required for the renewable energy resource. The number of both rooftop solar panels and utility scale solar power plants has dramatically increased as a result. Yet, only about 1% of all energy consumed in the U.S. is from solar power.
The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act would address another component of the expense associated with solar panels – the bureaucratic red tape that property owners must navigate in order to obtain permits for solar installation. An industry document (PDF) from the Solar Energy Industries Association determined that a streamlined regulatory system for installing and permitting solar panels would help make solar affordable for 50% of American homes:
The policy goal of supporting solar is to create the scale necessary to achieve grid parity, the point where solar stands on its own as an economic choice for millions of homeowners, without the need for subsidies. While solar equipment prices are falling, the total installedcost of residential solar is falling more slowly because of inefficient local permitting and inspection processes. It is appropriate and necessary for the Department of Energy (DOE) to address this problem because DOE has already built the tools to quickly streamline local permitting and inspection processes without sacrificing safety.
The effect of current solar permitting costs amounts to a $1 billion tax on the industry over five years. As a result, American solar manufacturers have a hard time keeping costs down, particularly relative to countries like Japan and Germany where there are zero permitting requirements for solar panels on homes.
If the 10 Million Solar Roofs legislation passes, the average consumer can expect to save $2,500 in solar panel installation costs.