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Heinrich, Cortez Masto, Kelly, Padilla & Wyden Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Help Homeowners Install New Renewable Energy Systems

WASHINGTON – As America’s demand for clean, reliable, and affordable energy grows, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Streamlining Homeowner Installation of New Energies (SHINE) Act, legislation that will help state, local, and Tribal governments accelerate the permitting and inspection process for residents to install home energy systems, like rooftop solar.   

The SHINE Act directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to work with local authorities to adopt an online tool developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (SolarAPP+) that automates permitting and approvals of residential renewable energy systems, saving time, lowering utility costs, and creating new jobs in the transition to a clean energy future.   

“If we truly want to accelerate the transition to a clean energy future, we need to make it easier for everyone to install energy systems like rooftop solar and battery storage in their homes,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “By reducing the time it takes to approve rooftop solar and home energy systems, the SHINE Act will help to bring more people on board in the transition to a clean energy future — all while cutting costs and supporting new jobs New Mexicans can build their family around.”  

“We need to make it easier for Nevada businesses and homeowners to take advantage of our growing clean energy economy and tap in to the lower energy prices that solar panels can provide,” said Cortez Masto. “By cutting red tape and streamlining permitting processes, this legislation will lower costs, create jobs, and help support a more sustainable future.”  

“As Arizonans take advantage of new energy systems to save money and support a transition to clean energy, it is important that permits are swiftly processed,” said Kelly. “The SHINE Act will eliminate red tape, making it easier for governments to approve applications, saving homeowners and small business owners time and money. 

“Streamlining the implementation of clean and renewable energy projects is vital to combating the climate crisis,” said Padilla. “Mirroring California’s efforts to expedite the process for homeowners to install solar and wind energy, as well as battery storage systems, the SHINE Act would provide crucial technical assistance to make renewable energy and battery storage more accessible.” 

“Each year, more Americans are installing solar panels and other clean energy products into their homes but local governments are struggling to streamline the permitting and inspection process for qualifying clean home energy systems,” said Wyden. “That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the SHINE Act which would simplify the permitting process for homeowners and local governments and build on the clean energy tax credits I authored in the Inflation Reduction Act. Together, these two pieces of legislation would create more green jobs in Oregon and nationwide and lower energy costs for homeowners.” 

 U.S. Representatives Susie Lee (D-Nev.), Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.   

“As one of the top ten states for solar in the nation, the clean energy transition is already well underway in Nevada. But permitting delays for rooftop solar and other residential energy systems are making this transition more costly and more time-consuming for homeowners, businesses, and local governments alike,” said Lee. “The SHINE Act is a launchpad for a proven permitting approach that will cut delays, save homeowners money, boost our small businesses, and maximize government efficiency – all at minimal expense to the taxpayer. That’s what I call a bipartisan no-brainer.”  

“With an average 300 days of sunshine per year in our state, Arizonans deserve reliable and affordable access to solar energy. The SHINE Act works to cut bureaucratic red tape and streamline the permitting process for homeowners seeking to adopt solar energy systems, encouraging the use of this abundant, sustainable energy source," said Ciscomani.

“Rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources present tremendous opportunities to build a more sustainable future; however, permitting barriers exist that add unnecessary costs and delays for homeowners,” said Tonko. “I am proud to support the SHINE Act to build upon DOE’s proven efforts to break down these barriers to ensure more efficient, cost-effective solar deployment. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.” 

Across the country, local governments are struggling to keep pace with the number of applications they are receiving for home energy systems like rooftop solar. When these permits take weeks, or even months, to process, it means higher prices, fewer local jobs, and a worse customer experience for homeowners.  

By adopting SolarAPP+, local authorities will help provide residents wishing to install home energy systems with a better customer experience, lower costs, and less wait time.   

Of the more than 15,000 local permitting jurisdictions across the country, less than 1% have adopted SolarAPP+ to date. Resources are necessary to scale up SolarAPP+ adoption, provide technical assistance, and make it self-sufficient and available to any local government within the U.S. that wants to streamline its permitting process. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that rooftops on homes and small buildings in the U.S. can accommodate over 700 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity, more than half of total electric generating capacity in the U.S. today.

The SHINE Act is supported by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); Advanced Energy United; Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico; Pima County, AZ; GRID Alternatives; Solar United Neighbors Action; Vote Solar; Sunrun; SunPower; Freedom Forever; GoodLeap; Sunnova Energy International Inc.; Mosaic; Colorado Solar and Storage Association; Summit Energy; TriSMART Solar; 1Solar; League of Conservation Voters; and Nevada Conservation League. 

“As we deploy clean and affordable solar energy at record pace, we need solutions that can help local governments handle the increase in solar permit applications. Now is not the time for red tape to hold back our clean energy progress. We commend Congress for championing legislation that will significantly expand the SolarAPP+ program and help more Americans benefit from streamlined, efficient rooftop solar permitting,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).   

Heinrich continues to be a champion of legislation to meet our decarbonization goals and support the energy transition, while building the clean energy workforce of tomorrow.    

In September, Heinrich delivered a keynote address at an advanced energy conference to lay out his vision to position New Mexico at the center of the nation's clean energy future. In the speech, Heinrich pointed to his work to accelerate the clean energy transition through legislation and federal investments he has secured. He also published an op-ed in the Denver Post emphasizing the need for more transmission lines to achieve our ambitious climate goals.    

Heinrich recently celebrated the groundbreaking of the new SunZia Transmission Line,the largest renewable energy project in America, which he worked for over a decade to advance. When completed, the SunZia Transmission and SunZia Wind projects will become the largest renewable energy infrastructure project in U.S. history, transporting up to 3,500 megawatts of energy from New Mexico to markets in Arizona and California. The project is expected to create over 2,000 jobs during construction and support over 100 permanent jobs once online.   

In May and June, Heinrich introduced legislation to improve the way that we permit,plan, and pay for transmission infrastructure. He announced plans to introduce the legislation in March in a keynote address at the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) Policy Forum.   

A fact sheet of the SHINE Act can be found here.

Bill text of the SHINE Act can be found here