By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post

A Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association team today received a $491,000 federal grant to develop a system that will cut red tape and cost for solar panel installations.

“Every municipality has been going about trying to set standards in a piecemeal fashion and that has added to cost,” said Neal Lurie, executive director of the Colorado solar association.

Non-hardware costs, such as permitting, installation, design and maintenance account for up to 40 percent of the total cost of installed rooftop system, according to the US Department of Energy, which awarded the grant.

In a report released earlier this year, San Francisco-based SunRun, a company that leases solar panels, estimated local permitting and inspection added $2,500 to the average residential installation nation-wide.

The average residential solar installation is now between $12,000 and $18,000 and half the costs are now for permitting, regulatory, interconnection, customer acquisition, installation, and other similar charges, Lurie said.

The COSEIA team will work with municipalities to develop consistent lists of best practices, on-line tools and other standards, with the goal of cutting application costs by 25 percent, Lurie said.

“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 Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association team also includes: the Rocky Mountain Institute, Denver, Boulder County, Fort Collins, Golden, and the American Solar Energy Society.

Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912 or MJaffe@denverpost.com

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