For rooftop solar installers, local permitting processes and complex federal regulations can bog down installations in red tape, creating frustrating delays and ballooning costs. But a few simple strategies can help installers cut through red tape, keep projects on track, and prevent headaches for homeowners. Let’s take a look at how.
Appeal to Local AHJs About Using SolarAPP+
The patchwork of permitting rules from one local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to the next contributes to high costs — from customer acquisition, lost labor time, and idle equipment to financing payment schedules and additional fixed costs. In some instances, delays can irritate customers enough to cancel the deal. Meanwhile, the permitting processes in certain towns, municipalities, or counties can be so demanding that they can drive away solar installers from the jurisdiction entirely.
“[Installers say] they could reduce their total costs by as much as 40%, including gross margins, if they could make the sale, installation, and interconnection of the system in one to three days—which I totally believe,” explained Pol Lezcano, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Thankfully, SolarAPP+ can alleviate the hassles associated with permitting. This free software developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) rapidly processes permits for residential solar and energy storage systems. Studies of jurisdictions using SolarAPP+ show residential permitting review timelines shortening dramatically from about 20 days to zero.
The initial results show promise for a platform only launched a year ago, but more robust adoption is needed. In a promising move, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution during their June 2022 conference to accelerate the clean energy transition with automated permitting (Solar APP+). But for the moment, only around 13 communities have adopted or are piloting SolarAPP+, with roughly 400 more presently reviewing the option — out of more than 20,000 cities and counties in the US.
The reasons for the lack of adoption vary. But installers should ensure that their local officials are aware of SolarAPP+ and understand how it can significantly streamline the permitting process to deliver savings and benefits to both installers and the AHJ.
SolarAPP+ helps reduce the soft costs and schedule risks associated with the solar permitting process by enabling jurisdictions to process large batches of permit applications, easing administrative burdens to lower review times and costs and saving thousands of staff hours.
SolarAPP+ is free for city and county permitting departments, and once implemented, AHJs can reduce the resources they dedicate to the solar permitting process. The system operates without additional support, and NREL provides no-cost updates for code revisions and new technological features.
SolarAPP+ is a win-win for installers and AHJs.
Use Highly Bankable Tier 1 Solar Panels
While local permitting can create an immediate logjam for installers, shifting and complex national regulations can lead to long-lasting delays.
The Biden administration recently paused the tariffs on PV module imports associated with the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) investigation, creating long-term certainty for the US solar industry. However, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) that went into effect on June 21 may lead to further disruptions for non-compliant manufacturers.
Installers can mitigate the potential supply chain risks arising from the UFLPA by deploying highly bankable Tier 1 solar panels. The designation of a highly bankable Tier 1 solar panel extends beyond the panel’s high-quality production techniques and long-term reliability. It also affirms the panel manufacturer’s financial strength and operational capacity to weather shifting industry disruptions, regulation changes, and global risks.
Manufacturers without a Tier 1 bankability ranking may lack the resources to navigate the always-changing, byzantine regulatory requirements. These manufacturers may not always be able to export products quickly in a high-demand solar market. The subsequent delay then carries over to installers, who are forced to scramble to adjust the bill of materials (BOM), installation schedule, and overall project cost.
Trina Solar has earned the trust and recognition of customers worldwide with its highly reliable solar panels and consistent bankability. Trina Solar scored 100% in the BNEF Bankability Survey in the last six years and is a tier 1 PV module maker, following the AAA rating in the PV ModuleTech Bankability report.
Contact us to learn more about Trina Solar’s highly bankable Tier 1 solar panels.
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