Rocky Mountain Institute to help drive solar adoption in Colorado

Team awarded DOE SunShot funding to develop solar-friendly communities

Snowmass, Colo. — A team led by Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (CoSEIA), and including Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), received a $491,000 federal grant to pilot a program in Colorado that could reduce solar permitting and interconnection costs by 25 percent.

“The Energy Department is investing in this Colorado project to unleash the community’s solar potential by making it faster, easier and cheaper to finance and deploy solar power,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.

The proposed Colorado project called “Solar-friendly communities”—led by CoSEIA in partnership with RMI, Denver, Boulder County, Fort Collins, Golden and American Solar Energy Society—will identify and spread best practices through online tools, hands-on support, and quantifiable progress assessments.

RMI will bring their expertise in solar balance of system data and best practices for cost reduction to the project, and will lead efforts to evaluate and measure the impact various practices and tools have on lowering the ultimate cost of solar energy to customers.

Rocky Mountain Institute to help drive solar adoption in Colorado

“One of the strengths of the solar friendly communities program is that it is highly scalable,” said RMI Chief Operating Officer Ned Harvey. “This partnership will not only streamline solar processes, but will provide a compelling reason to do so and make it easy to implement. Then, we can apply this model far beyond the borders of the original participating communities.”

The CoSEIA partnership is one of 22 regional teams awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rooftop Solar Challenge to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems, and is part of the DOE’s larger effort to make solar energy more accessible and affordable.

Using a “race to the top” model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge incentivizes regional awardees to address the differing and expensive permitting, zoning, metering and connection processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar PV systems. These diverse teams bring together city, county and state officials; regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy in targeted communities, which can serve as models for other communities across the country.

Read more about RMI’s background in convening solar industry stakeholders to drive BoS cost reductions at http://rmi.org/rmi/SolarPVBOS.

Reducing the cost of solar is a key to achieving to achieving an efficient, renewable and distributed electric system. This transformation is outlined in Reinventing Fire, RMI’s vision and blueprint for running a 158% bigger U.S. economy in 2050 needing no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy and one-third less natural gas.

Source: Rocky Mountain Institute, December 6, 2011

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