Solar

Fighting Solar Bureaucracy

Issue 5 and Volume 2.

More than 90% of Americans want greater use of solar power, yet less than 1% of America’s energy comes from solar power. One of the problems is that each state has different standards for connecting solar to the grid. The Solar Electric Industries Association (SEIA) recently took an interesting step to address this problem by creating a “Solar Bill of Rights.”

Through a website, www.solarbillofrights.com, they are encouraging people to add their voice by signing the bill. This fall, SEIA will march on the U.S. Capitol to deliver the name of those who have signed and urge key Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration to enact policies to expand the use of solar energy in the United States.

In Europe, a similar appeal is underway. Called PV Legal (www.pvlegal.eu/consortium), the goal is the “reduction of bureaucratic barriers for successful PV deployment in the EU.” The group notes that when it comes to constructing PV projects, bureaucracy and highly complex procedures and requirements (i.e. notification, registration, licensing, environmental impact assessment, etc.) significantly hamper installation processes.

Among the basic points in the SEIA bill of rights:

People want to put solar on the roof of their home or business, but many are prevented from doing so by local restrictions.

Each state (in some cases, each utility) has a unique process for connecting solar systems to the local electricity grid.

Allowing customers to net meter is critical to making solar an economically viable option for most homeowners. 

It is critical that solar energy receive the same level of support, for the same duration, as the fossil fuel industry.

Only around 25 percent of utility customers in the U.S. have the ability to actually purchase clean, renewable power. Utilities should be required to offer the electricity source that their customers want.

Hurrah to the SEIA and the European Commission’s Intelligent Energy for Europe programme which is funding the PV Legal project. I’ve signed the Bill of Rights: have you?

Pete Singer, Editor-in-Chief, [email protected]