Friday, February 22, 2008

Cap on Municipal Solar Facility Fees Gets Senate Nod

A bill that would cap the fees that can be charged by municipalities for approval of solar energy systems was given preliminary approval by the Senate Thursday.

SB 117 would limit the amount that could be assessed to $300 for a residential permit and $1,000 for a non-residential permit. Currently, fees vary widely around the state. In Denver, the fee for approval of a solar energy system is $59, while in Aurora it is nearly $1,000.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, is the sponsor of the bill. He told fellow Senators during debate on the measure that fee caps would eliminate a large obstacle to the proliferation of solar energy generation facilities and more renewable energy use.

Proponents of the bill said in committee hearings that, in some cases under current law, the permit fees can be equivalent to ten percent of the total cost of the system.

An industry advocate argued in a recent Rocky Mountain News editorial column that high municipal solar permit fees can also offset several years worth of energy bill savings to the consumer.