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Vermont Enacts Statewide Solar Permitting Standard, Crosshairs On 'Soft Costs'

Posted by Adam Sewall In Wednesday, June 1 2011 under: VoteSolar, Vermont Solar, solar permits, permitting, Cost and Financing, SolarTech

Vermont has passed a law that simplifies and standardizes the permitting process for small solar energy systems statewide, a move that could lead to lower installation costs.

In order to connect a residential solar photovoltaic (PV) system to the electric grid, homeowners across the country are required to complete the permitting process set up by their local government.

By convention, solar installers handle the associated paperwork. But permitting variations from town to town can nevertheless increase solar installation costs. A recent report by SunRun, for instance, suggests that inconsistent local permitting and inspection processes add about $0.50 for each watt of solar PV installed. In other words, simply harmonizing permitting standards could shave about $2,500 off the cost of installing a residential solar power system. Clearly, we're not talking chump change.

Vermont lawmakers agree.

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Snags in Solar Permitting Add Costs, Delays

Whenever the discussion of solar cost, the focus is usually on the cost of equipment, like solar panels and inverters. But, according to a recently released report from California solar installation company SunRun, there's another factor that's adding up to 30 percent to the solar installation cost: permits. Solar installers across the country are becoming increasingly frustrated with different requirements, even between neighboring counties. So what's the deal with solar permitting?

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