On Nov. 6, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II announced the award of $2.575 million to the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) to help make it easier for residents and businesses to use solar energy. The competitive funding award is one of eight given nationwide, totaling more than $12 million.
In December 2011, MARC and a consortium of regional partners received a $450,000 Rooftop Solar Challenge award to implement Solar Ready KC, an initiative that helped streamline local government permitting and planning processes, explore financing options and identify best practices in implementing solar energy. The new award will build on these efforts, both in the Kansas City region and across the country.
With its second round of Rooftop Solar Challenge awards, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative supports efforts to cut red tape, reduce “plug-in” costs and make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. Over the next 30 months, MARC will work with regional and national partners to implement the Solar Ready II initiative.
Regionally, Solar Ready II will expand improved permitting processes to more local governments; develop GIS mapping tools to determine which rooftops are most conducive to solar energy; create a certification program for rooftop solar installers; develop market research panels; and expand financing options.
Nationally, MARC will partner with the National Association of Regional Councils to replicate its successful model in nine other regions, working with regional councils representing central New York, northwest Indiana, southwest Florida, and the metro areas of Philadelphia, Phoenix, Dallas, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Washington, D.C. Other award partners include the Council of State Governments and Meister Consultants Group, Inc.
“Over the past two years we’ve seen dramatic growth in the power supplied by rooftop solar panels across the Kansas City region,” said Georgia Nesselrode, MARC’s director of local government services. “When we launched Solar Ready KC in late 2011, rooftop solar supplied less than 2 megawatts of power to area residents and businesses. The latest figures show that number has more than tripled, and the solar market continues to grow at a very rapid pace.”