IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 26, 2011
Mr. Sanders (for himself, Mr. Boozman, and Mr. Bingaman) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To provide local communities with tools to make solar permitting more efficient, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as
10 Million Solar Roofs Act of
In this Act:
Best practices for solar permitting
The term best practices for solar permitting means 1 or more practices—
defined by the Secretary by regulation as—
promoting standardization and uniformity for local permitting requirements for solar energy across jurisdictions; and
lowering the solar energy system installation costs associated with local permitting; or
expediting the local permitting process for solar energy; and
identified by the Secretary through consultation with—
local governments, including each local government that participates in the Rooftop Solar Challenge or other appropriate solar energy program of the Department of Energy; and
members of the solar energy industry.
The term challenge grant means a grant awarded under a competitive program to 1 or more applicants that achieve implementation of best practices for solar permitting.
Commitment to adopt best practices for solar permitting
The term commitment to adopt best practices for solar permitting means an agreement or memorandum of understanding between the head of a local government and the Secretary that contains—
an outline of steps that the local government commits to take to adopt best practices for solar permitting; and
a timeline for implementation of the steps described in subparagraph (A).
Installed nameplate capacity
The term installed nameplate capacity means the maximum output of a solar electric system under specific conditions designated by the manufacturer of the solar electric system.
The term Secretary means the Secretary of Energy.
Solar energy system
The term solar energy system means rooftop or ground-mounted solar equipment—
that is used to generate electricity or heat water in the United States; and
with an installed nameplate capacity not exceeding 1 megawatt or the thermal equivalent of 1 megawatt.
Tools for efficient installation of solar energy systems
As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a program under which the Secretary shall provide competitive grants or challenge grants, or both, to local governments or consortia of local governments that have adopted or offer a commitment to adopt best practices for solar permitting for properties located in the United States.
The Secretary shall provide voluntary certification and recognition for local governments (including local governments that receive grants under paragraph (2)) that indicate that the local government has adopted best practices for solar permitting.
Competitive grants and challenge grants
For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall award competitive grants or challenge grants, or both, to local governments and consortia of local governments to be used in accordance with this section.
The Secretary shall adopt and implement criteria for awarding competitive grants or challenge grants, or both, under subparagraph (A) to local governments and consortia of local governments—
to promote greater standardization, efficiency, and uniformity for solar energy permitting across jurisdictions; and
require that grant awards are provided only to local governments or consortia of local governments that have—
adopted or offer a commitment to adopt best practices for solar permitting; and
provided quantitative metrics to measure success;
ensure that grants are awarded to a diversity of geographic locations and recipients with different population sizes; and
provide a preference for grant applicants that have partnered with States, public utility commissions, or other stakeholders to adopt or enhance standards and policies to overcome other barriers to distributed generation (including interconnection and net metering).
Authorized use of funds for competitive grants
Subject to subsection (c), competitive grants provided under this section may be used for—
training for making, to the maximum extent practicable, the local permitting process for solar energy systems more standardized, efficient, and less expensive;
the development of materials, Internet-based tools and application processes, and other tools or information to make, to the maximum extent practicable, the local permitting process for solar energy systems more standardized, efficient, and less expensive;
solar energy system deployment projects or programs to pilot new permitting strategies or processes; and
other programs or projects to achieve the objectives described in subparagraphs (A) through (C), as determined by the Secretary.
Authorized use of funds for challenge grants
Subject to subsection (c), challenge grants provided under this section may be used for—
solar energy system deployment projects; and
programs to pilot new permitting strategies or processes.
Rescission for noncompliance
The Secretary shall rescind any amount of grant funds that the Secretary considers to be appropriate that is provided to any grant recipient that—
receives funds based on a commitment to adopt best practices for solar permitting; but
is unable to implement the steps necessary to adopt the best practices for solar permitting.
The Secretary shall require that each entity that receives grant funds under this section shall be responsible for a matching amount (including in-kind services)—
established by the Secretary for each fiscal year for which funds are authorized; and
not to exceed 50 percent of the amount of the provided funds.
Not more than 5 percent of the amounts made available for each fiscal year under this section may be used to pay the administrative expenses of the Department of Energy that the Secretary determines to be necessary to carry out this Act (including expenses arising from monitoring and evaluation).
Grant recipients may use not more than 5 percent of the amounts made available for each fiscal year under this section to pay for administrative expenses.
To the maximum extent practicable, the Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chief Executive of each grant recipient that receives funds under this section to ensure that each program or project carried out by each grant recipient through the use of the funds is coordinated with each other applicable incentive or financing program of the Federal Government or any other applicable program.
The goals of the United States, through this Act and any additional or existing incentive or research and development program, are—
to install distributed solar energy systems on not less than 10,000,000 properties located in the United States by December 31, 2020; and
to achieve cost reductions in the price of solar energy by December 31, 2020, consistent with the SunShot Initiative of the Department of Energy.
Report Regarding Additional Recommendations
Not later than 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives a report that contains additional recommendations that the Secretary determines to be necessary to achieve each goal described in subsection (g).
Report regarding progress of grant recipients
Not later than 2 years after the date on which funds are first made available under this section, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that contains a description of the progress of grant recipients under this section in implementing and maintaining best practices for solar permitting.
Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated under section 641(p)(3) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 17231(p)(3)), the Secretary may use to carry out this section $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 through 2016.
Paragraph (1) shall terminate on October 1, 2016.