May. 7 2011 – 3:39 pm

The Colorado legislature has slashed the price of government red-tape for permitting solar power arrays. The Fair Permit Act (HB-1199) cuts the cost local government agencies can charge customers for permits to install solar electric systems or solar water heaters — in some cases by over 50%.

The exorbitant fees charged by some localities look more like taxes than honest calculations to simply recover the cost of ensuring an installation meets local codes. No more, said Colorado’s legislature this week.

The Fair Permit Act limits fees to the actual cost of the permitting process, and caps the amount at $500 for residential customers and $1,000 for commercial installations.

“While solar costs continue to decrease through innovation and efficiency, permit costs have actually increased over the past few years,” said Neal Lurie, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. “By keeping government fees low, this legislation helps promote economic development and save consumers money.”

Part of a Larger Movement

The bipartisan Colorado victory benefited from the organizing and educational expertise of the San Francisco-based non-profit, Vote Solar Initiative, which launched a campaign for the Fair Permit Act in March. They modeled the effort on a similar campaign the group conducted in Arizona, and that reduced permitting fees in the city of Phoenix from $1000 to $225.

If you’re thinking of going solar, you should check your local permitting fees using Vote Solar’s interactive online map. Just click on your town and you’ll see the current permit price and the amount of time it takes to get the permit approved.

Passage of the Colorado bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, dovetails nicely with the Department of Energy’s SunShot program, which aims to make solar power cost-competitive with more traditional forms of electrical generation, nationwide, by 2020.

One signature part of the federal program, which was announced in February, is to reduce permitting costs by 88%.

If comments are closed.

Comments are closed.

-->