Monday, July 22, 2024

Automatic photo voltaic for the individuals: why Massachusetts ought to undertake digital allowing


THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT The final remaining coal-fired plant in New England will shut in 2028 signaling that we’re saying goodbye to soiled and costly types of power manufacturing. Today we have to quickly construct the clear, inexpensive power system of tomorrow and the photo voltaic roof is poised to play a number one function.

Here in Massachusetts now we have made sturdy progress, tapping 10.8 p.c of our rooftop photo voltaic technology potential, one of many highest charges within the nation. Homes and companies are realizing that with photo voltaic they’ll break away from utility corporations and cut back their electrical energy payments. And because of state and federal incentives — together with tens of billions of {dollars} accessible from the Inflation Reduction Act — it is cheaper than ever to make the change to photo voltaic.

But we’re simply scratching the floor. After all, rooftop photo voltaic has the potential to fulfill almost half of our power wants.

Getting there means an enormous enhance in photo voltaic functions, inserting vital calls for on native allowing departments. In Massachusetts, many native authorities nonetheless use paper varieties for rooftop photo voltaic functions and there are not any deadlines by which they should be authorized. Instead of counting on time-pressed municipal workers manually confirming a number of structural, electrical and fireplace compliance inspections, we have to make the method extra streamlined and simple.

There are methods to do all the mandatory authorization checks extra effectively, with out slicing corners or compromising security. The Massachusetts Legislature is contemplating H.4503, which features a requirement for municipalities to just accept digital submission of photo voltaic allow functions and related documentation, and units a timetable for authorities to take motion.

Better than digital consent is automated or fast consent. The gold commonplace for automated digital approval is SolarAPP+, the freely accessible platform developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Hundreds of cities throughout the nation already use SolarAPP+ to approve photo voltaic functions, rapidly and effectively delivering power independence and decreasing payments to their residents. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that in areas the place it’s used, SolarAPP+ will save 9,000 hours of native authorities employees time by 2022 and velocity up the allowing course of by a mean of 13 days.

We want extra solar energy in Massachusetts. And if we are able to get it from the rooftops, we should. That’s higher than shopping for power from fossil gas energy vegetation situated miles away. But to maximise our rooftop photo voltaic potential, we want a brand new allowing course of. We require digital consent and encourage all jurisdictions within the Bay State to undertake SolarAPP+ as quickly as doable.

Deirdre Cummings is MASSPIRG’s legislative director. Larry Chretien is the manager director of the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

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