How to Cut Solar Red Tape to Mitigate Installation Delays

For rooftop solar installers, local permitting processes and complex federal regulations can slow down installations.

How to speed up the process of installing solar panels

For rooftop solar installers, local permitting processes and complex federal regulations can slow down installations. This can lead to frustrating delays and ballooning costs. However, by using a few simple strategies, installers can cut through red tape, keep projects on track, and prevent headaches for homeowners. Let’s take a look at how.

Appeal to Local AHJs About Using SolarAPP+

Different local authorities have different rules for permits. This can lead to high costs for customers, installers, and the solar industry as a whole. Sometimes, these delays can cause customers to cancel their deals. On the other hand, some towns or counties have permitting processes that are so demanding that they can drive solar installers away from doing business there.

An analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) believes that if installers could make the sale, installation, and interconnection of the system in one to three days, they could reduce their total costs by as much as 40%.

SolarAPP+ is a great software that can help you get your residential solar and energy storage system permit approved quickly. This software was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. When this software is used, the review process for permits shortens dramatically from around 20 days to zero.

The initial results of a platform only launched a year ago show promise. The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to help speed up the clean energy transition with the help of an automated permitting system (Solar APP+). However, more widespread adoption is needed. So far, only around 13 communities have adopted or are piloting SolarAPP+, while 400 more are currently reviewing the option — out of more than 20,000 cities and counties in the US.

There are a lot of reasons why people don't adopt solar energy. But one way to help this is if installers make sure that their local officials know about SolarAPP+ and how it can save time and money when it comes to the permitting process. SolarAPP+ makes it easier for jurisdictions to process a lot of permit applications quickly. This saves time and money, and also reduces the risk of delays in the solar permitting process.

SolarAPP+ is free for city and county permitting departments, and once implemented, AHJs can reduce the resources they dedicate to solar permitting process. The system operates without additional support, and NREL provides no-cost updates for code revisions and new technological features.

Use Highly Bankable Tier 1 Solar Panels

Even though local permitting can cause delays for solar installers, national regulations can create even longer delays. Recently, the Biden administration paused the tariffs on PV module imports associated with the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) investigation, creating long-term certainty for the US solar industry. However, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) that went into effect on June 21 may lead to further disruptions for non-compliant manufacturers.

Installers can reduce the potential risks to the supply chain by using Tier 1 solar panels. These panels are highly reliable and have a long life span. They are also very affordable, so even if something happens that affects the industry, the installer will be able to weather the storm.

Manufacturers who don't have a Tier 1 bankability ranking may not have the resources to navigate the always-changing, complicated regulatory requirements. These manufacturers may not be able to export products quickly in a high-demand solar market. As a result, this can delay projects for installers, who are then forced to scramble and adjust the bill of materials (BOM), installation schedule, and overall project cost.

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