Salt Lake City has collaborated with some partners to create an online tool to simplify the solar process for all sectors, with the overall objective of reducing the time, costs and complexity of going solar.
The city worked with Utah Clean Energy, Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center, the US Department of Energy and Salt Lake County to create www.SolarSimplified.org. DOE’s SunShot Initiative’s Rooftop Solar Challenge and the Wasatch Solar Challenge are also supporting the project.
The new website provides a Utah-specific solar return on investment (ROI) calculator, which provides estimates on costs, benefits and environmental impacts of rooftop solar projects.
Additional resources for homeowners and businesses include a Utah solar contractor directory, step-by-step guidelines, and a revamped solar resource mapping tool for Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County. The interactive map can estimate both solar duration (i.e. number of hours of sun in a day) and solar intensity (i.e. quality of the solar resource throughout the day) in a specific geographic location, and take into account shading from surrounding trees, buildings, and other objects. Users are able to get an accurate look at the ‘solar resource’ at their home, business or even potential new building site.
For building officials, fire officials and utilities responsible for approving solar projects, SolarSimplified.org offers extensive technical information on solar, including solar reports, available solar trainings, frequently asked questions and resources on permitting and zoning, including a Zoning Toolbox and Best Practices for Solar Permitting. The goal is to see greater standardization among local solar processes, which will ultimately help reduce solar costs for end-users.
The website provides local officials with tools to facilitate their adoption of more streamlined and expedited solar processes. Some jurisdictions have already started; both Park City and Summit County recently adopted the Solar ABCs Expedited Solar Permit Process – a nationally standardized solar permit available on SolarSimplified.org.