Leading Solar Companies Unite NREL’s SolarAPP+ Online Tool Helps Local Officials Expedite Approval of Rooftop and Projects

By Marianne Leone and Ron Celentano

Leading Solar Companies Unite NREL’s SolarAPP+ Online Tool Helps Local Officials Expedite Approval of Rooftop and Projects

SolarAPP+ was developed to cut the time and expemse of going solar in the U.S. © SolStock

Jn August at ASES’s SOLAR 2021 conference, attendees learned about the Solar APP+ campaign rollout during the Industry Roundtables with a short presentation by Marianne Leone, Coordinator Mid-Atlantic Solar & Storage Industries Association (MSSIA) and Ron Celentano, Vice President MSSIA PA Division, or PASSIA, and Technical Director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association (PSEA).

In July, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of a new online permitting platform to accelerate the approval of solar projects while maintaining the integrity of the permitting process. SolarAPP+ was developed and built by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in consultation with a broad range of experts from businesses, trade groups, local governments, researchers, and code and safety organizations. It will cut the time and expense of going solar in the U.S., where the cost of installation is 2-3 times greater than in countries like Germany, the United Kingdom,
and Australia.

With this announcement SolarAPP+ is now being made available as a solution to cities across the country, to help jurisdictions process solar installations more efficiently and with a standardized high level of quality and safety. This efficiency gain and cost reduction is seen as critical for American energy consumers to achieve the rapid growth in solar adoption targeted by the administration.

Solar customers will save money. Solar installers will have more clarity about the process, get more projects done and contribute more to local economies. Local officials will be able to rely on quality assurance processes built into the online application tool with input from code and safety experts at organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association. (NFPA).

It’s time to support rapid adoption of SolarAPP+ by cities across the country. To support this goal, a group of solar companies, state solar energy associations, which includes MSSIA, clean energy advocates, and environmental organizations has launched The SolarAPP+ Campaign to raise awareness about SolarAPP+ and promote its adoption. The outreach teams are currently in nine states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. The project is motivated by national data showing that local governments with instant online permitting for rooftop solar process 5-14x more volume than jurisdictions with traditional permit processing. The SolarAPP+ Campaign is supporting state solar associations’ advocacy with a goal of getting over 100 jurisdictions to adopt the new tool by next summer.

Learn more: solarappcampaign.org

Learn more: solarapp.nrel.gov

About the Authors
Marianne Leone has been serving the sustainability industry as a professional meeting planner and consultant on organizational excellence for 20 years. After working with the US Green Building Council and USGBC New Jersey Chapter, she began work with the Mid-Atlantic Solar & Storage Industries Association, and has been the coordinator for 10 years. From that role, she is the ASES Affiliate Chapter representative and this year also represents New Jersey on the new state SolarAPP+ campaign team, along with Lyle Rawlings.

Ron Celentano, a solar energy industry consultant with Celentano Energy Services (CES), started in the solar energy field over 40 years ago, with more than 25 years focused on solar PV. He has been involved with helping shape most all of Pennsylvania’s state laws and regulations in solar energy over the past two decades, including net metering, interconnection, PA’s solar share requirement, closing the borders and many other policy-related issues.

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