Despite tremendous progress in the U. S. solar market in the past several years, going solar remains a long and arduous customer experience for many Americans due to the inefficient processes required to travel from "permit to plug-in," including permitting, inspection, and grid interconnection. Some jurisdictions are doing very well with a single step in this process – for instance, you can get a solar permit in one day in Chicago, and you can get connected to the grid very quickly in Southern California. However, no one community has mastered an efficient, comprehensive permit to plug-in process. Customers often wait as long as six months to flip the switch on a small residential solar system that could be grid-connected simply and easily if these steps were improved.
The SunShot Prize aims to change that. This competition will spur faster, easier, and cheaper solar deployment in the U.S. and will offer a total of $10 million in cash awards to make the permit to plug-in process more efficient than ever before. Contestants will work towards improving the time it takes to get from permit to plug-in from its current duration – often as much as six months – to a swift seven days (small systems) or seven weeks (large systems). The SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar will challenge the ingenuity of America's businesses, organizations and communities to make installing solar energy systems in the U.S. faster, easier, and cheaper. Join us to improve the customer experience of "going solar."
SunShot encourages members of the solar energy community to review the draft rules for this prize contest. Public comments on the rules were excepted until November 28, 2014. After careful consideration of these comments, the official rules will be released no later than the end of January 2015.
WHY DRAFT RULES?
- On September 19, 2012, DOE published a notice to announce the release of the final rules for the SunShot Prize program in the Federal Register (78 FR 58114). This $10 million prize to spur low-cost rooftop solar installation across the nation. Successful competitors were expected to achieve a $1 per watt non-hardware cost using innovative, replicable, and verifiable business processes. On September 19, 2014, DOE published a notice in the Federal Register (79 FR 56349) to announce its decision to suspend the original rules and its intent to release revised competition rules before the end for the calendar year.
- DOE has reexamined the original rules in light of today's needs and conditions and determined that these rules do not create the necessary synergetic opportunities for collaboration among cities, installers, and utilities to bring process efficiency which ultimately lower prices.
- DOE has released a revised draft rule document of the program seeking public comments no later than November 28, 2014.DOE plans to publish the official rules after careful consideration to public comments, no later than the end of the 2014 calendar year.