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Solar Friendly says C’dale is just that

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By Lynn Burton

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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Solar Friendly Communities has awarded
the town of Carbondale a Silver Level certification for adopting
“best practices” designed to make it faster, easier and more
affordable for residents to go solar.

“Carbondale has long been a solar
leader…,” said Rebecca Cantwell, senior program director for
Solar Friendly Communities.

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Solar Friendly Communities is led by
the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association, according to SFC’s
website. Other entities involved with Solar Friendly Communities
include the American Solar Energy Society and the Rocky Mountain

“Carbondale becomes the first
community on the Western Slope to earn the valuable designation, and
the eighth community in Colorado since the program began late last
year,” said Cantwell.

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Carbondale is being recognized for
earning 940 points out of a possible 1,600 to qualify for Silver
Level recognition. Cantwell said the town has worked on a variety of
ways to make solar permitting smoother including: posting
requirements in an online checklist, capping fees at $100 per PV or
solar thermal permit, and encouraging solar energy in town planning

“Carbondale is honored to receive
recognition for our efforts in promoting energy generation through
solar,’’ said Carbondale Mayor Stacey Bernot. “We have worked
hard to incentivize and promote carbon reducing measures such as
solar through our programs and codes. Our strong local solar
businesses allow our citizens to accomplish sustainable projects that
benefit the individual, our town and beyond. Carbondale will
continue to be a leader in renewable energy and leave a lasting
legacy for the next generation.”

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Solar Friendly Communities works to
advance reforms to solar permitting, inspection and finance as part
of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative to drive down
the costs of solar energy, according to the SFC website. The program
uses a roadmap of 12 Best Practices and rewards communities for
endorsing these practices.

Carbondale joins the city and county of
Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Fort Collins, Arvada, Nederland and Boulder
County in earning Solar Friendly Communities certification.

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While the costs of solar panels have
dropped dramatically in recent years, the “soft costs’’ of
solar including permitting and inspection now account for up to 60
percent of the total price, according to SFC.

“By adopting policies that cut the
time required to get rooftop solar systems installed, Carbondale is
helping to cut the cost of the systems and making solar more
affordable. With interest in solar growing, the streamlined processes
will also help the town prepare for greater solar energy demand,”
said a press release.

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Carbondale residents have numerous
programs to help them go solar. The Community Office for Resource
Efficiency (CORE) has rebates available for residents throughout the
Roaring Fork Valley to advance solar energy throughout the community.
CORE offers rebates of $0.50/kWh up to $3,000 for solar photovoltaics
and $1,500 per panel, and up to $6,000 for solar thermal. In
addition, they offer a low-interest loan to help mitigate the upfront
costs of solar energy.

California-based Optony, part of a
Rooftop Solar Challenge team, helped Carbondale work on its policies
and submit its application for SFC’s certification process.

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The Colorado Solar Energy Industries
Association was established in 1989 and has more than 400 members.
According to the mission statement on its website, it “ … works
to remove barriers, highlight emerging trends, advance policy and
improve public outreach and education across the state.”

The Colorado association is part of the
national Solar Energy Industries Association, and represents and
leads a wide range of solar-related businesses including:
manufacturers, distributors, dealers, installers, integrators,
financiers, utilities, entrepreneurs, educators and others. COSEIA is
governed by a nine-member board of directors that oversees the
organization’s strategic priorities, budget and bylaws.

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Solar Friendly Communities and COSEIA
operate out of the same office at 1536 Wynkoop St. in Denver.