Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) today introduced The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011. In an attempt to install solar on 10 million rooftops, the proposed legislation would help to lower the costs of installing solar for homeowners and businesses by streamlining the application and permitting process.
Sanders and Boozman are the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee, and Bingaman is the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
It’s not the first time that Sanders has introduced such a bill. He introduced similar legislation in 2010. This is apparently narrower in scope and ties into the Obama Administration’s SunShot Initiative. It will appropriate $50 million each fiscal year from 2012 through 2016 to develop best practices for solar permitting.
"As we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs in this country,” Sanders said in a press release. “This bill also sets strong targets for American solar energy production, to ensure we compete vigorously with China and Europe for solar energy jobs."
Sanders said, "This legislation will make it more affordable for families and businesses to install solar, by helping communities reduce the costs associated with solar energy permitting. As we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs in this country. This bill also sets strong targets for American solar energy production, to ensure we compete vigorously with China and Europe for solar energy jobs."
“We applaud the senator’s efforts. He’s been a long-standing supporter of solar. And we look forward to working with this bipartisan group of legislators,” said Monique Hanis, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) spokesperson. “A bill like this could go a long way to make it easier and less expensive to deploy more solar.”
While the cost of photovoltaics has come down and the costs of installing solar have come down, the costs of permitting and applying to install solar have not. Considering that every district, township, county and state has its own rules regarding permitting, it’s created myriad permitting processes each with its own regulations and fees that can reach as high as $2,500 for a residential system.
Previous legislation has helped to lower the cost of solar, according to Hanis. “With a very, very small investment in policy, we’ve gotten a good result,” she said.