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Heinrich, Collins Introduce Bipartisan American Energy Opportunity Act To Streamline Clean Energy Technology Permitting

The lawmakers introduced the legislation to encourage state and local governments to adopt instantaneous permit applications for solar and battery storage

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 9, 2019) – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the American Energy Opportunity Act to provide state and local governments with voluntary tools to expedite and standardize the permitting process for distributed energy technologies, such as rooftop solar and battery storage, while ensuring high-quality and safe installations.

“If we truly want economical clean energy at a local level, we need to streamline the permitting process for distributed energy technologies like rooftop solar,” said Heinrich, Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on Energy. “The current patchwork of permitting requirements across local jurisdictions causes delays and increases costs for both local governments and the businesses and homeowners who want to build smaller-scale renewable energy systems. I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to help state and local governments reduce unnecessary costs and procedures in order to promote small-scale grid modernizations in communities in New Mexico and across the nation.”

“Solar energy is a proven and powerful tool in the fight against climate change,” said Collins. “The American Energy Opportunity Act would help spur the adoption of this technology by providing beneficial tools to streamline the permitting process at the municipal level, which will help drive down the hidden costs of installing rooftop solar. This bill, coupled with the BEST Act we introduced earlier this year to promote next-generation energy storage, holds the potential to unleash the promise of clean, renewable energy throughout the country.”

The rapid growth in use of clean energy technologies by American homeowners and businesses has led to a need for optimized local permitting. The American Energy Opportunity Act provides new voluntary tools for state and local governments to facilitate instantaneous permitting processes that improve, standardize, and automate applications for residents and businesses. By encouraging the adaptation of an optional online permitting portal, communities can reduce soft costs and administrative burdens, attract business investment, and promote economic development and job creation.

The legislation could also pave the way for a voluntary national certification program for installers and a strong inspection protocol. This would help accelerate the clean energy economy already growing across the country, while ensuring the quality and safety consumers demand and expect.

The American Energy Opportunity Act has the backing of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“This bill is a win-win-win for consumers, local governments, and clean energy businesses. Local governments and building inspectors don’t always have the resources they need to go from permitting a kitchen remodel to permitting a solar system,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “This bill will provide tools to improve the solar permitting process across the nation, reducing costs for consumers while enhancing safety and quality. This means more people and businesses can deploy solar faster and better.”

A copy of the American Energy Opportunity Act is available here.