On January 14, the U.S. Department of Energy convened all eight Rooftop Solar Challenge II (RSCII) teams in Washington, D.C., to foster collaboration among the teams and to share success stories and lessons learned from across the country. The summit revealed the extensive reach of the RSCII program. The combined effort of all the RSCII teams represent 147 million people, or 47% of the total U.S. population, and span across 26 states plus D.C.
RSCII strives to spread the successes of the first round to a broader national audience. With soft costs—all non-hardware costs, such as permit fees and labor for installation—constituting over 64% of the total cost to install a PV system, it is clear that communities can play a key role in supporting their local solar industry by minimizing these cost barriers. Results from last year’s effort provide evidence that simple process and administrative changes can provide a huge boost to local industry. In fact, over the past 18 months, RSCII communities have saved local solar companies an average of four to five business days per installation.
At the summit, the eight RSCII teams were eager to share lessons learned, such as NYSERDA’s deployment of a standardized solar permitting process throughout New York State, led by the CUNY team. The ASTI team communicated the value of leveraging regional organizations (such as COGs, councils of governments) to create momentum and gain critical mass in an area. The RSCII group also considered ways to promote consistency across regions, states, and even nationally. For example, teams wanted to ensure that updates to net metering standards or permitting procedures being promoted in a given region are similar to those under consideration in neighboring states.
The American Solar Transformation Initiative team is excited to bring these national best practices back to our participating communities and we look forward to another great year of progress.