Denver dubbed 'solar friendly' for permit streamlining

Denver is officially a

Denver is officially a "solar-friendly" city because of its streamlined permit system. 

Denver’s efforts to cut the cost and time needed to get permits to install solar power systems at homes and businesses has landed it a designation as a “Solar Friendly Community,” the first in the nation.

The award was given Tuesday by the Solar Friendly Communities program, part of a national effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the costs of installing solar power systems.

“We are honored and delighted to be the first to earn this recognition for our efforts in making our city friendly to solar energy,’’ said Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a statement. “We believe solar energy is an important part of our community’s future, and our hope is this recognition will lead to a variety of environmental and economic development benefits.’’

The cost of solar power panels and other parts have dropped up to 70 percent in the last three years, but other installation costs — such as permitting and labor costs — haven’t dropped, and now account for up to 40 percent of the total price of installing a rooftop-based solar power system, according to the DOE.

Local permitting and inspection processes add about $2,500 to the cost of each residential system, according to a report by SunRun Inc., a San Francisco company that leases solar-power systems to homeowners and businesses.

The average permit fee for a residential solar power system is nearly $500 in Colorado, but only $50 in Denver, said Neal Lurie, executive director of the Denver-based Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association.

Denver’s permitting office can issue a permit at the counter in 15 minutes, while it can take up to 20 days in other jurisdictions, Lurie said.

Read more in the Denver Business Journal.

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