The city of Lakewood has earned Silver Level certification as a Solar Friendly Community for adopting practices designed to make it faster, easier and more affordable for its residents to go solar.
City officials will be formally honored with the presentation of a road sign and a plaque at the city council meeting March 25.
“We work hard in Lakewood to ensure that homeowners and businesses can accomplish improvements to their buildings in a timely manner, and this award just shows how responsive we are during the construction process,” said Lakewood Mayor Bob Murphy. “I’m also proud that our responsiveness contributes significantly to supporting solar installations, which further the city’s sustainability goals.”
Solar Friendly Communities works to advance reforms to solar permitting, inspection and finance as part of a federally funded effort to drive down the costs of solar energy. The Colorado-based program was awarded a Rooftop Solar Challenge grant under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which is aiming to make solar price-competitive with other energy sources by 2020.
Solar Friendly Communities uses an easy-to-follow roadmap of 12 Best Practices (explained in detail at www.solarcommunities.org) and rewards communities for endorsing these practices. Lakewood earned 935 of 1600 possible points by adopting policies such as providing checklists of requirements, offering over-the-counter permitting and giving a short window for inspections.
While the costs of solar panels have dropped dramatically in recent years, the “soft costs” of solar such as permitting and inspection now account for about 40 percent of the total price. By adopting policies that cut the time required to get rooftop solar systems installed, Lakewood is helping to cut the cost of the systems and making solar more affordable. With demand for solar growing, the streamlined processes will also help the city prepare for greater solar energy demand.
“Lakewood has taken important steps to make it more affordable to install rooftop solar systems, ” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for Solar Friendly Communities. “We hope these actions will yield economic and environmental benefits for years to come.”
Solar Friendly Communities is led by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association in partnership with the City and County of Denver, Boulder County and the cities of Fort Collins and Golden, along with Rocky Mountain Institute and the American Solar Energy Society. With Lakewood’s recognition, the three biggest cities in metro Denver have all earned Solar Friendly Communities certification as Denver and Aurora were recently recognized.