Perhaps Yale University wasn’t happy with just giving grades to students, but it’s created an important new resource to understand how Connecticut’s 169 municipalities are embracing solar power. As such, they also show how other communities are doing and what’s enabled them to have higher or lower scores.
The scorecards were produced by Yale’s Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group. “By showing the wide range of practices and costs for permitting solar,” said Danny Macri, Research Fellow with Data-Driven Yale, “we acknowledge the high performers and show other municipalities that if towns like them are able to streamline permitting and offer reasonable fees they may be able to do so as well.”
The researchers found that with a score of 83.24 Coventry, was the most solar-friendly municipality in the state. It was followed by Ashford, Mansfield, Simsbury and Windsor. The least solar-friendly community in the state was Bridgeport with, according to the scroecard, a ranking of 39.9. The scoring looked at things like the length of time it takes to get a residential solar permit, how much the permit costs, local incentives and more.
Among other things the scorecards show how municipalities affect transaction costs, which are also called soft costs. “These localized ‘soft costs’—which include the cost of permitting, labor, and customer acquisition—accounted for 46 percent of the total cost of solar in Connecticut in 2015,” Yale said.
“This scoring system will hopefully inspire municipalities to update their local permit process to today's standard best practices,” said Michael Trahan, executive director of solar industry group SolarConnecticut. “The scorecard also gives solar installers a sense of where it is cheapest to install solar in Connecticut, and for property owners thinking about installing solar to compare their town's policies on solar to others.”
Yale sent the scorecards to each town’s top official and building department. They’re also available at www.ctsolarscoreboard.com.