Chicago to Reduce “Soft Costs”


The City of Chicago received one of the largest grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) Sunshot Rooftop Solar Challenge. The $750,000 grant will largely support efforts to streamline the zoning, permitting, interconnection and inspection processes for residential solar systems, similar to PennFuture’s program in western Pennsylvania.

According to the announcement from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the program funded by the grant will expedite these processes and ease the regulatory burden on utility companies and municipal officials to approve and interconnect a new system to the grid. These “soft costs” build up due to inefficiencies among several municipal departments that regulate the electricity grid. By consolidating the steps to plug solar into the grid into one process rather than a patchwork of disjointed segments, the program will reduce administrative fees that can sometimes climb to a few thousand dollars.

Cities and regions with particularly convoluted bureaucracies tend to drive up fees charged by solar installers and municipal officials that handle much of the paperwork required. That’s why the DOE launched this targeted solar initiative. It’s not just throwing money in the form of generous subsidies to make a dent in system costs. Rather, the program targets specific barriers and bottlenecks in the process, then leverages federal funding and local networks to facilitate installations for rooftop solar. Read more about the rest of the projects funded under this innovative DOE program!

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