Reducing Local Barriers to the Installation of Solar Power Systems

The Loma Prieta Chapter area is blessed with abundant sunlight which is the most plentiful precisely at the season-summer-- when our region's electrical energy demand is greatest.

Cost remains an important barrier to the wide use of solar PV systems. The unsubsidized price of residential solar electric power can be greater than the direct cost of power from fossil fuels (not accounting for the external environmental impacts) – depending on electric rates.

Several factors including the price of materials, labor, and permitting fees contribute to this cost. In California, financial incentives offered by the state and federal governments have made the economics of solar electric systems more favorable in most of the greater Silicon Valley region. Local government actions contribute to the cost of solar directly through permitting fees and indirectly through varying permitting requirements and times, which contribute to increased costs through red tape and bureaucratic processes.

Starting in June 2005, the Chapter's Global Warming and Energy Committee(GWEC)undertook a study of Solar Permit fees charged by cities in the greater Silicon Valley region. This study compared the cost of fees to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and received a great deal of press attention. The study publicized major disparities in the fees charged by different cities and led to actions by 24 cities (in Silicon Valley) to significantly reduce their fees (and a total of 52 cities in the greater Bay Area region), removing a small but important barrier to the installation of solar PV.

The success and recognition of the Solar Permit Fee Study has led to Chapter involvement in the regional SolarTech effort to identify needs, metrics, standards, and barriers in the local solar PV industry. Building on this involvement, the Loma Prieta Chapter is working to extend this success to other well focused studies of barriers associated with solar power such as the total time for issuance of a permit or the varying permitting requirements. Time delays and varying standards from city to city contribute to increased costs and inconvenience which all contribute to barriers to the installation of solar electric power systems.

We are committed to an ongoing systematic effort to help reduce these barriers step-by-step.

Read the Residential Solar Permit Fee Study for Northern California

Read the details of the Non-residential Solar Permit Fee Campaign

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By the numbers:

Loma Prieta Global Warming Activists: 2821

Cool Cities Teams: 19

Signers of U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement: 23

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