ASTI Newsletter |February 2014 Edition | By Stephen Wolcott
As a platform that brings together key stakeholders in regional solar markets, creating targeted working groups is one of several powerful tools available to participants in the American Solar Transformation Initiative (ASTI). ASTI working groups enable participating cities and counties to share experiences and lessons learned while working to increase solar energy adoption and reduce soft costs. It also provides an opportunity to exchange resources and benchmark against peer jurisdictions.
By facilitating relationships among motivated stakeholders in your community, working groups allow participants to tackle Solar Roadmap goals with greater ease. The ASTI team helped facilitate a working group in California’s Central Valley, where the cities of Fresno, Clovis, Turlock, Atwater and Hanford met to discuss a standardized regional solar permitting form. Composed of building officials and inspectors from each jurisdiction, the group shared a common goal to establish a permitting form and coordinated permitting process across the region. Regional coordination on municipal processes enables jurisdictions to save both time and taxpayer dollars.
Solar Roadmap participants are also leveraging working groups to effectively implement solar market development objectives across entire regions. For example, the ASTI team is collaborating with well-respected regional organizations such as the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and others in Colorado, New York, and California, to explore solar bulk purchasing options for homeowners and municipal facilities. Through the multi-stakeholder leadership of regional organizations, significant progress is being made toward regional clean energy goals. In the Greater Washington region alone, there are several RFPs being released by local governments this quarter for over 10 MW of on-site solar procurement.
Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the ASTI team are partnering with cities and private companies across the region to form a working group that aims to pioneer a commercial solar aggregation program. The Smart Energy Enterprise Development Zone (SEEDZ) Initiative will allow companies to purchase renewable energy as a group, which lowers the transaction costs and time spent on procurement. Collaborating with Silicon Valley cities allows solar adoption to occur more effectively by streamlining the permitting process, enabling policy support, and providing incentives for companies to participate. Optony provides technical expertise and facilitates these relationships through organized meetings and leveraged networks with the U.S. Department of Energy. As stated by Don Bray, Executive Director for Joint Venture’s Smart Energy Enterprise Development Initiative, “[The ASTI team] has played a key role in the Joint Venture SEEDZ Initiative…In our Initiative working meetings, they have provided creative deployment concepts and practical economic evaluation – both of which are essential to developing effective renewable energy solutions.”
ASTI communities are using the Solar Roadmap and creating high-impact working groups to not only make it easier for their communities to procure solar, but also to directly grow the solar market in their region.