Reducing Soft Costs

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21st Century Permitting in California: Today’s Effort to Modernize Permitting and Slash Soft Costs


March 12, 2014


9am (Pacific Daylight Time)
12pm (Eastern Daylight Time)
5pm (Central European Time)
Check your own time zone here


1 hour


Free of charge


Bernadette Del Chiaro (Presenter)
Jesse Morris (Presenter)
Christian Hoepfner (Moderator)



There are nearly 500 different cities and towns in California and each have different permitting rules and processes for rooftop solar energy systems. This balkanized system has caused unnecessary cost increases and interconnection delays.  Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown has set a goal of installing 12 GW of distributed generation by 2020 and the state has ambitious carbon reduction goals that will necessitate continued emergence of a localized carbon-free grid. In 2014, to bring California’s permitting process to the 21st Century, solar advocates are converging on a state-wide effort to establish a single over-the-counter statewide permit accessed through a statewide web-based portal. At this webinar, we will discuss California’s efforts to reduce soft costs associated with permitting and how these efforts might dovetail and/or influence the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, permitting isn't the only challenge facing industry. Soft costs are stubbornly high in the U.S., especially when compared to international markets, and this is largely due to high inspection, interconnection, installation, customer acquisition, and financing costs. Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit organization, recently released a report summarizing findings from several time and motion studies of residential rooftop installations in the U.S. and Germany. This research illustrates exactly where and when costs are incurred in the installation process and highlights the impact that different roof types, racking designs, and system configurations can have on installation costs.


Bernadette Del Chiaro

Executive Director, CALSEIA, U.S.


Jesse Morris

Jesse Morris

Senior Associate, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), U.S.


Bernadette Del Chiaro
is the Executive Director of CALSEIA, the California Solar Energy Industries Association, the oldest state-based solar industry association in the United States. She joined CALSEIA after serving as the Director of Clean Energy and Global Warming Programs at Environment California. She has over a decade of experience working on solar energy policy in Sacramento including being the sponsor of several key pieces of legislation such as SB 1-The Millions Solar Roofs Initiative, AB 1470 – The Solar Thermal Rebate Program, and AB 920-Surplus Net Metering Compensation. She's been quoted and published in numerous local, national and international media outlets and has authored numerous reports on various clean energy topics. Ms. Del Chiaro sits on Governor Brown’s Permitting Guidebook Steering Committee and she is currently coordinating an effort to streaming permitting statewide in California.

Jesse Morris is a Senior Associate in the electricity disruptor and transportation practices of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Within electricity, Jesse is primarily involved in RMI’s disruptor program where he works with his team to help expand PV solar deployment across the U.S. Jesse works closely with industry to identify and capture balance-of-system cost reduction opportunities in addition to exploring new financing models within the solar industry. Jesse also participated in RMI’s Reinventing Fire research initiative where he analyzed the potential for whole-system design to improve the U.S. transportation system by investigating exactly where, when, why, and how we use our vehicles. He also researches freight system efficiency and heavy truck design and operations.


Dr. Christian Hoepfner

Director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, U.S.


Christian Hoepfner is the Director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) in Boston, MA. The Center performs contract research and development in the areas of Solar Photovoltaics, Building Energy Efficiency and Distributed Electrical Energy Systems technologies. CSE is also engaged in supporting local energy startup companies with expertise and resources to accelerate their commercialization efforts.

Before joining Fraunhofer CSE in 2009, Christian was Vice President of Product Marketing and Management at Luminus Devices, which grew from an MIT start-up company to a world leader for specialty LED products. Prior to this, he worked at LNL Technologies, Bandwidth Semiconductor, and Spire in a wide range of roles and technology areas, including lasers, photo detectors, III-V semiconductor device design and processing, planar light guides, and chemical vapor deposition. Christian received his PhD from the Free University Berlin, Germany, for work in thin film photovoltaics.