The Growing Demand for Clean Energy in Washington

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the demand for clean energy in Washington, ranking us 34th in the USA for solar energy capacity. Homeowners increasingly recognize the importance of transitioning to sustainable solutions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner environment. According to SEIA, Washington installed enough solar energy capacity to power 65,508 homes as of December 2023. Our state’s ambitious renewable energy goals and supportive policies have also played a crucial role in driving the demand for clean energy. Washington’s residents are eager to harness the power of clean energy and positively impact the environment.

Driving Down Costs: Addressing the Soft Costs of Solar

Although prices for solar have fallen by 42% over the last ten years, one of the significant factors that drive up the price of solar energy in the United States, including Washington, is the high soft costs associated with solar installations. Soft costs refer to the non-hardware expenses, such as permitting, financing, and installation labor. These costs significantly contribute to the overall price of solar systems and make them less affordable for homeowners.

Solar Costs: Australia vs. USA

Going solar in the United States is more than twice as expensive compared to Australia. The average price per watt in Australia is around $1.20, and $3.00 in the USA. In the USA, homeowners and businesses face higher soft costs, making solar energy less competitive. Washington can help reduce soft costs through various initiatives to address this issue. The state can reduce solar energy costs by streamlining financing options, simplifying paperwork, and promoting competition among solar installers, making it more accessible and affordable for homeowners.

Overcoming Barriers: Simplifying the Solar Permit Process

One of the barriers hindering the widespread adoption of solar energy in Washington is the complex and time-consuming permit process. Homeowners and solar installation companies wishing to install solar panels across the state often need help with a bureaucratic maze that slows the transition to clean energy. However, Washington has the opportunity to take steps to simplify the solar permit process and remove unnecessary obstacles.

SolarAPP+: Permitting Automation

In January 2022, the SolarAPP+ (Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus) initiative is a program developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The SolarAPP+ initiative aims to streamline and simplify residential solar energy installations’ permitting and approval process. The traditional permitting process for solar projects can be time-consuming and involve multiple levels of approval from local authorities. SolarAPP+ seeks to automate and expedite this process by providing a standardized and automated platform.

Critical features of SolarAPP+ may include:


The initiative establishes standardized criteria for solar installations, helping to create consistency in the permitting process across different jurisdictions.


SolarAPP+ incorporates automation tools to assess whether a solar project complies with the established standards. This can reduce the need for manual reviews and accelerate the approval process.


SolarAPP+ aims to make it more efficient by automating and standardizing the permitting process, saving time and reducing costs for homeowners and local authorities.

User-Friendly Interface

The platform may feature a user-friendly interface that simplifies the application process for solar installations, making it more accessible for jurisdictions and solar industry professionals.

Increased Solar Adoption

SolarAPP+ intends to encourage greater adoption of residential solar energy systems by streamlining the permitting process, contributing to the growth of renewable energy.

Free For Jurisdictions

SolarAPP+ is a cost-free solution provided to city and county permitting departments, allowing them to streamline the approval process for residential solar panel systems. Once set up, jurisdictions can reduce the time spent on routine tasks associated with solar installations, enabling them to allocate resources to more pressing priorities. Following the initial onboarding, the system operates independently, requiring no ongoing support from the user’s team. Furthermore, continuous improvement and updates, including code revisions and integration of new technologies, will be supplied at no additional cost by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Achieving Standards and Lowering Costs

By streamlining the permit process and implementing standardized guidelines, Washington can make it easier for homeowners to obtain permits for solar installations. Consistent permitting will accelerate the transition to clean energy, encourage more homeowners to take advantage of solar power, reduce their reliance on traditional energy sources, and help Washington meet its clean energy goals.

Incentivizing Clean Energy: Government Programs and Initiatives

The federal and state governments in the USA have implemented several programs and initiatives to incentivize homeowners, businesses, and utilities to adopt solar energy solutions to accelerate the clean energy transition in Washington. These programs include tax credits, rebates, and accelerated depreciation to encourage the installation of solar energy, battery storage, EV chargers, and smart panel systems. Combine the 30% tax credit from the Federal government with the Washington sales tax exemption for solar energy systems to maximize your return on investment and start generating clean energy today!

Empowering Homeowners: Education and Resources for a Successful Clean Energy Transition

For a thriving clean energy transition in Washington, empowering homeowners with the necessary education and resources is crucial. Many homeowners and businesses are eager to embrace clean energy but need more knowledge and guidance to make informed decisions. To address this, Northwest Electric and Solar helps create educational content and resources that give homeowners and businesses the information they need to transition to clean energy via solar energy systems.

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Manuel Larrain
Manuel Larrain is a Chilean-born US citizen who studied business and sustainability at Western Washington University. Solar energy is his passion, as it is transforming how Washingtonians power their lifestyle. He believes we can address climate change, environmental justice, and steward a brighter future for all of us through renewable energy.