“Thanks to our town staff, Nederland has reduced soft costs for solar PV systems,” said Joe Gierlach, mayor of Nederland. “It benefits our local economy because it’s easier for contractors to obtain permits, install solar PV systems and have them inspected. This allows homeowners to begin soaking up the benefits sooner, and it brings our community closer to achieving our sustainability goals.”
Solar Friendly Communities works to advance reforms to solar permitting, inspection and finance as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative to drive down the costs of solar energy. The program uses an easy-to-follow roadmap of 12 Best Practices (explained in detail at www.solarcommunities.org) and rewards communities for endorsing these practices.
Nederland becomes the seventh community in Colorado to be recognized and first town. Nederland joins the city and county of Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Fort Collins, Arvada and Boulder County in earning Solar Friendly Communities certification.
Nederland earned 710 points out of a possible 1600 to qualify for Bronze Level recognition. The town has adopted solar permitting practices such as providing a checklist of requirements, using a standard form, allowing electronic permit submissions, quickly conducting inspections and requiring only one system inspection.
While the costs of solar panels have dropped dramatically in recent years, the “soft costs” of solar such as permitting and inspection now account for about 40 percent of the total price. By adopting policies that cut the time required to get rooftop solar systems installed, Nederland is helping to cut the cost of the systems and making solar more affordable. With interest in solar growing, the streamlined processes will also help the town prepare for greater solar energy demand.
Solar Friendly Communities is led by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association in partnership with Boulder County, along with the City and County of Denver, Fort Collins, Golden, Rocky Mountain Institute and the American Solar Energy Society.