Grant to make solar power installation cheaper, easier


Bellevue has received a federal grant to make solar panel installation easier and cheaper by establishing consistent standards and processes for all utility types and jurisdictions.

Solar power can generate a considerable amount of electricity for a household, but the high cost of the hardware, permitting and installation means only a dozen homeowners in Bellevue have installed solar panels on their roofs so far.

Bellevue has teamed up with the state Department of Commerce, local utilities and the cities of Edmonds, Ellensburg and Seattle to reduce administrative barriers to residential and small commercial solar panel installations by streamlining, standardizing and automating administrative processes.

Known as the Evergreen State Solar Partnership (ESSP), the team was one of 22 nationwide to receive a grant for the federal Department of Energy’s Rooftop Solar Challenge. The ESSP received $523,800.

The Bellevue City Council on June 18 approved Bellevue’s acceptance of its $65,000 share of the grant. The grant requires Bellevue to provide up to $10,000 in in-kind contributions.

The ESSP aims not only to shorten permitting processing turnaround times, but also to establish online permitting for solar panel installation. The Development Services Department plans to expand online review to all construction, fire protection, right of way, utility connection and land use actions by May 2013.

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