News From the East Bay Green Corridor

Green Corridor Streamlines Solar Permitting

Since winning Department of Energy “SunShot Initiative” grants to streamline its residential solar permitting process, the Green Corridor has made great strides. Our model for a simple expedited process that will apply to an estimated 80 percent of permit applications will be released this summer, followed by adoption in fall and implementation by winter. 

Super Collaborations
The Green Corridor believes that in order to successfully increase efficiencies and lower “soft costs,” including permitting, interconnection and inspection, we must work collaboratively with industry. On August 28th, the Green Corridor convened a joint group of solar contractors and local jurisdiction representatives and received valuable input and excitement about the Green Corridor’s proposed guidelines and novel approach to streamlining.

The Green Corridor is also working with regional partners Solar Sonoma County and Contra Costa Economic Partnership/Craft Consulting Group. Together, we cover 28 AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) within the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa & Sonoma Counties. 

Collaborating across organizational “borders” will further the goals of the SunShot Initiative to scale up and accelerate greater adoption. Future collaboration may be in the areas of utility interconnection, trainings and implementation methods.

State and National Participation
Streamlined solar permitting has “caught fire” at the state and national levels. The Green Corridor served as an active member of the California Governor’s Office of Policy & Research solar permitting work group, and contributed to the development of the CA Solar Permitting Guidebook, released in June.

The Green Corridor is additionally highlighted in the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s report, Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting.

Balance of System Costs
While standardizing solar permitting will help reduce soft costs, it is only a piece of the pie.  Commonly referred to as “balance of system costs,” or BOS, these cover everything but the module such as equipment, engineering and financing. As solar PV module prices decline, BOS costs will assume a much greater share of a project’s total cost.

According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, industry strategies such as more efficient system designs and streamlined business processes could lead to an estimated 50 percent reduction over current best practices—in a less-than-five-years’ timeframe. That, coupled with local governments’ efforts to decrease soft costs, will be an effective combination.

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