The Windy City is about to get a whole lot sunnier: At the Solar Power International conference this week, mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the creation of “Chicago Solar Express,” a one-day permitting process for new residential solar installations.
The new process includes a streamlined permit form for both residential solar as well as commercial solar systems, as well as a solar checklist for contractors to help them through the process.
The Solar Express was developed in part with a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of its Sunshot Initiative. The city expects the permitting costs for a new solar installation to drop by 25 percent as a result of the new program.
There has been a relative flurry of activity to reduce the “soft costs” of solar — permitting, labor, and customer acquisition chief among them — in recent months. New York State last month put the final touches on its Unified Solar Permit, a streamlined permit that covers all but two of the state’s counties. And in August, nine city governments in northern California’s East Bay joined together for faster solar permits.
The Chicago Solar Express, with its goal of making solar simple and affordable, is just one part of the city of Chicago’s 2015 Sustainable Chicago action agenda, which includes seven areas of activity:
1. Economic Development and Job Creation
2. Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy
3. Transportation Options
4. Water and Wastewater
5. Parks, Open Space, and Healthy Food
6. Waste and Recycling
7. Climate Change
Also this week in Chicago solar news, the city’s Shedd Aquarium announced the installation of a huge new solar system on its roof, a 265-kilowatt project that was funded in part by the state government, and will go a long way toward helping the Aquarium use clean power for all of its operations, part of its Master Energy Roadmap.
By Matthew Wheeland