The Vote Solar Initiative, a non-profit organization with the mission of stopping global warming, fostering economic development and increasing energy independence by bringing solar energy into the mainstream, is working on the key policies necessary to bring solar to scale.
Project: Permit is their latest effort to move solar forward. Designed to streamline the solar permitting process in cities nationwide, the project will launch with an interactive online map that highlights current permit fees and practices.
I asked Claudia Eyzaguirre, senior policy advocate for Vote Solar, about this new Vote Solar project. I wondered if it would be something akin to NNEC’s Freeing the Grid, a national report card for net metering and interconnection policies across the U.S.
“Much like Freeing the Grid did for net metering and interconnection, we plan to use the map to celebrate cities that are already using permitting best practices, as well as highlight those where there is room for improvement. In the places that currently have poor permitting practices, we’ll work with our large grassroots membership and the in-state solar industry to encourage improvement.”
According to Eyzaguirre, there are a number of innovative financial mechanisms that Vote Solar expects to drive residential solar market growth; in particular, the removal of the residential Investment Tax Credit (ITC) cap and municipal PACE financing programs coming on line.
“We identified solar permitting as one remaining sticking points that can stand in the way,” said Eyzaguirre. “The fact that cities can streamline solar permitting without much budgetary impact makes this work even more of a priority in these strained economic times. Also, we were very impressed with the reports produced by the Loma Prieta Sierra Club on Solar PV permit fees for Northern and Southern California and wanted to expand their work to highlight permit practices in other states. The permit map seemed like a great way to capture our members’ strength and depth of knowledge and to shine some light into the otherwise pretty unknown world of city permit offices.”
The map Eyzaguirre is referring to is being launched (in beta version) in pilot states, starting with Arizona and Oregon. According to Eyzaguirre, Vote Solar is partnering with those states’ SEIA chapters to encourage in-state solar instalers and developers to help build out the map data.
Plans are to update the map as data comes in. When there’s a critical mass of state-specific data, Vote Solar will launch that map, along with a coordinated press effort and use the publicity to jump-start local campaigns.
For more information about Project: Permit, contact Claudia Eyzaguirre at 415.817.5065