Lightening the Load: How SolarApp+ Can Help Climate Activists Push for Solar Roofs in Their Cities

  • Posted on 6 March 2023
  • By Ed Maurer, Sierra Sage Group Management Committee
Being a climate activist can be daunting, and SolarApp+ can lighten the effort.  Since a lot more electricity generated from renewable sources is needed fast, and since governments on all levels don’t move fast, here’s one proposal your city council may actually act on fast. With a little help from my friends at the Solar Rights Alliance, I got results in my city.
What is SolarApp+, what does it do, and what can YOU do about it?
  • SolarApp+ is the Solar Automated Permitting Platform developed for cities and counties by the federal Department of Energy. 
  • SolarApp+ reduces the time and cost of permitting solar roof installations dramatically.  In Tucson, AZ SolarApp+ reduced the time to obtain a solar roof permit from 3 weeks to 1 day.
  • If your city council has moved to install this app, your work on this subject is done.  If not, let me tell you how the city council of Mission Viejo was finally prodded to take action.
For the past 2 years, I had been addressing my city council at its bimonthly meetings to no avail, mostly advocating for Community Choice Energy, when I was contacted by the Solar Rights Alliance and learned about SolarApp+.  Realizing that this app sets a much lower bar for the city council to jump over on the Marathon Hurdles race toward reducing a city’s carbon footprint, I brought it up at a city council meeting and learned that city staff had been “looking into”  solar apps.  At a subsequent meeting, Caley Underhill, lead organizer for the Solar Rights Alliance, and others also spoke in favor of SolarApp+, with the amazing result that the council directed staff to move from “looking into” the matter to finally doing something about it!  The city applied for and was approved for a state grant to install the app on the city’s server, and we’re now waiting for this process to be completed.
This was not hard, and it did not take long to see a tangible result of our efforts.  Why don’t you try this at your city council?  You’ll have plenty of knowledgeable help from the Solar Rights Alliance and the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter.
In light of what lies ahead when global average temperatures increase by 1.5 or even 2°C, it’s fair for climate warriors to remember the phrase that “anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world.”  Easier access to solar roofs may qualify as a tiny step toward saving an entire future world.

Header image: Photographs of solar panels being installed on homes in Alameda, California Taken by photographer Henrik Kam. 


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