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Solar Effort in Colorado Aims to Sunset High Permitting, Survey Fees

By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post

Two Colorado start-up companies aiming to cut the cost of residential solar panel installations received a total of $1.8 million in federal grants, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday.
The two companies Boulder-based Concept3D and Parker-based Simply Civic are focusing on cutting the so-called soft costs, such as permitting and inspections.
Those soft costs make-up twice as much of the price for a residential installation as the solar panels themselves.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, speaking at the SunShot Conference in Denver today, said that such administrative costs have to be brought down to make solar energy competitive.
The Shotshot initiative is aiming cut the cost of solar energy by 75 percent by 2020, making it price competitive with low-cost, natural gas electricity generation.

The cost of installing photovoltaic panels in the US is about $5.71 a watt, Chu said.

The panels make up $1.04 of the price and permitting and installation costs $2.04 cents, Chu said
“Even if we gave you PV modules for free, the residential and commercial utility installation costs are quite high,” Chu said.

Concept3D’s $1. 3 million project aims lower installation costs by reducing time of on-site surveys, site costing, sales and permitting, and installation.

Simply Civic’s $500,00 grant will be used create an online application that municipalities can use to accept, process, and automate permits, and manage inspections.

“We see very high permit fees, some municipalities think this is an income-producing venture,” Chu said.

If municipalities want more revenue, they should raise parking meter fees, Chu said.

Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912 or [email protected]

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