The price of solar energy generation has plummeted in recent years, with the average installed cost for residential solar photovoltaics (PV) dropping 43% between 2010 and 2015. Most of this decline has come from falling equipment prices, with the non-equipment costs, also known as soft costs (Figure 1), remaining fairly consistent.
Local communities have a big role to play in reducing the soft costs associated with installing solar energy systems. In addition to permitting and inspection practices, local zoning ordinances can either inhibit or support distributed solar deployment within jurisdictions. Identifying and addressing barriers to solar energy installations in the local zoning code is a baseline strategy for reducing solar soft costs. Below are several factors that communities might consider in evaluating their local zoning practices to enable solar deployment.Continue reading