It takes more than 70 pages of tedious paperwork to get a residential solar system connected to the grid and properly rebated, residential solar installer Sungevity estimates. The Berkeley, Calif.-based startup is launching a campaign today to end this wasteful paper trail by asking the Public Utilities Commission to accept electronic signatures on rebate and interconnection applications. Sungevity is gathering support by having proponents text message the word “esignature” along with their name, area code and email address to 55333.
The campaign is being officially launched at the Solar Power International 2008 conference in San Diego. Sungevity hopes that with a critical mass of industry insiders they’ll be able to garner a lot of support very quickly. For a high-tech and supposedly environmental industry like solar to be locked into the documentation system of yesteryear is not only antithetical to the industry, it’s also costly.
While hesitant to attach a dollar value or number of lost hours to the current system, Kennedy says it’s definitely costing solar installers: “It’s wasting days of installers’ time who could instead could be getting out there and doing quality installations.” Even though the investment tax credit was finally renewed for eight years, regulatory and bureaucratic obstacles still plague the solar industry. Net metering requirements and interconnection regulations are two of biggest hurdles, Kennedy says.
This campaign makes sense for Sungevity, a residential solar installer startup that, in an effort to help reduce costs, uses satellite imagery to do an initial rooftop assessment. To help promote the campaign, Sungevity has hired contortionists to roam the Solar Power International conference floor wearing t-shirts that ask, “Paperwork tying you up in knots?” Don’t worry, we’ll bring you pictures soon.