The Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance announced plans to construct and interconnect rooftop solar systems in one day or less, an unprecedented goal given the industry’s current average of 30 days. In a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, teams made up of local governments, solar and technology companies, and electric utilities will compete for a total of $10 million in cash prizes that will go back into local communities.
The alliance, which includes Pacific Gas and Electric Company, SolarCity, Qado Energy, Accela and the City of Livermore, will compete in the small systems category (1 - 100 kW) for a first-place prize of $3 million and second-place prize of $1 million. The potential winnings would be split between the City of Livermore and possibly other jurisdictions that will use the funds to enhance the solar experience in their communities. The alliance is also eligible for the Change Prize Award of $100,000, which will be used to develop necessary technologies and recruit additional jurisdictions to join the team.
Despite exceptional cost reductions for solar hardware over recent years, the “going solar” experience in many parts of the country can be long and arduous due to inefficient processes and complex administrative obstacles. Sponsored by the SunShot Initiative, the “SunShot Prize: Race to 7-Day Solar” competition aims to spur innovation and improvements in the solar implementation process. Teams will be judged on their ability to improve process certainty and reduce the “permit-to-plug-in” time from the current duration to a swift seven days for small systems.
Members of the Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance have excellent track records in efficient solar installation and software innovation, making the collective group a strong contender for the national prize. PG&E interconnects more than 5,000 rooftop solar systems per month with an average cycle time of less than five days. SolarCity crews are repeatedly able to install rooftop solar systems in less than one day. Accela is the leading provider of permitting and inspection technology and has helped local governments decrease solar permit processing time by 75 percent. And Qado Energy’s integrated platform helps streamline solar interconnection while ensuring process transparency and efficient fulfillment.
The performance period for the competition begins on Sept. 22, 2015, and concludes on March 17, 2017. The winning teams will be announced on June 26, 2017.