a Silver Level Solar Friendly Community
Boulder County has earned Silver Level certification as a Solar Friendly Community for adopting leading best practices designed to make it faster, easier and more affordable for its residents to go solar.
The three county commissioners will be formally honored on May 21 at 9:30 a.m. in their chambers with the presentation of a road sign and a plaque, followed by a brief reception.
Solar Friendly Communities works to advance reforms to solar permitting, inspection and finance as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative to drive down the costs of solar energy. The program uses an easy-to-follow roadmap of 12 Best Practices (explained in detail at www.solarcommunities.org) and rewards communities for endorsing these practices. Boulder County becomes the first in its county to win this recognition after the City and County of Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Fort Collins and Arvada have earned Solar Friendly Communities certification.
Boulder County is being recognized for earning 915 points out of a possible 1600 to qualify for Silver Level recognition. The county has worked on a variety of ways to make solar permitting smoother including: posting requirements in an online checklist, streamlining permitting forms, promoting communication between installers and inspectors and educating residents about solar energy.
Boulder County has also participated, through Chief Building Official Gary Goodell, on the Solar Friendly Communities steering committee which developed the program, so the county has been an important partner in the work. The county’s Land Use department and Goodell are featured in an introductory video about the program which is linked from the home page at www.solarcommunities.org.
“Boulder County has shown leadership in welcoming rooftop solar projects to the county,” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for Solar Friendly Communities. “The involvement of Chief Building Official Gary Goodell in shaping the program has helped make sure that our recommendations are in line with good building practices. We hope that the Silver Level certification, which shows the county has chosen to adopt a number of Best Practices, will pay environmental and economic dividends to Boulder County’s citizens.”
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, Boulder County is helping to cut the cost of the systems and making solar more affordable. With interest in solar growing, the streamlined processes will also help the county prepare for greater solar energy demand.
Solar Friendly Communities is led by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association in partnership with Boulder County, along with the City and County of Denver, Fort Collins, Golden, Rocky Mountain Institute and the American Solar Energy Society.