The Energy Department is gathering input on solar designation programs that could one day help consumers recognize the best products and services that the solar industry has to offer. | Photo by Dennis Schroeder/NREL.

You’re ready to go solar, to be energy independent, to invest in clean energy. But you’re not sure where to start, what the process will be like in your community or how much it will cost for your home.   

To boost consumer confidence, we’ve launched the Designation Program for Solar Energy Stakeholders Request for Information (RFI). This RFI -- soliciting feedback from the solar community at large – represents a powerful opportunity to allow for standardized information and common expectations within the solar market. To provide input for the RFI,  submit your feedback.

Nationally-recognized designation programs such as EPA’s ENERGY STAR® label and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification provide consistent and rigorous criteria and labeling to help consumers recognize trusted products and services. Designation programs such as these distinguish credible authorities and information providers who have demonstrated a level of competency, reliability and safety.

Because solar energy systems are rapidly dropping in cost and becoming increasingly appealing to a broad range of consumers, it is more important than ever to rein in the non-hardware or “soft” costs associated with permitting, installation, inspection and financing. A large portion of these costs, which can comprise as much as 40 percent of the total installed system price, are related to the inconsistencies in policies, procedures and knowledge across more than 18,000 jurisdictions in the United States. An accepted standardized, transparent process that designates the best solar market players may not only reduce costs and uncertainties, but also helps to create a new energy economy that fosters increased solar market demand and deployment.

Tackling the nation’s most complex energy challenges requires the expertise and innovation of private and public stakeholders alike. Input from solar developers and installers, communities, property owners, businesses, utilities and investors will help the Energy Department guide the creation of a new designation program that will establish streamlined and consistent training, quality and performance standards throughout the solar industry.

For more details on how to participate, view the full RFI.