As a SolSmart Gold designee, the City of Philadelphia is receiving national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and less expensive to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment, generate economic development and local jobs.
“We are extremely proud that the City of Philadelphia is a SolSmart Gold designee – the highest designation in the SolSmart program. This designation recognizes the Office of Sustainability’s work to reduce solar permitting costs, create a Solar Guidebook, and implement and update an expedited permitting process. The City is committed to making it easier to complete solar projects.” – Amanda Warwood, City of Philadelphia Energy Analyst
To achieve designation, cities and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning, permitting, financing, customer acquisition, and installation for labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system. Reducing these costs leads to savings that are passed on to consumers.
Here in Philadelphia, the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Licenses and Inspections have worked together to improve the solar permitting process, leading to an update of the City’s expedited solar permit standard in 2016. The expedited solar permit standard allows for a shorter processing period for small solar project applications (one-and-two-family dwellings that are 10kw or less). It also allows these projects to proceed with only an electrical permit, as opposed to requiring a building permit as well.
SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.
About the SunShot Initiative
The U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. Through SunShot, the Energy Department supports efforts by private companies, universities, and national laboratories to drive down the cost of solar electricity to $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Learn more at energy.gov/sunshot.