10 million U.S. roofs with solar by 2020?

While the GOP controlled House was busy slashing clean energy program budgets last week, a Senate subcommittee was occupied with drafting a bill that, among other efforts, aims to make solar power system installations faster and cheaper for the nation.

The “10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011” is a piece of legislation spearheaded by Senators Bernie Sanders and John Boozman of the Senate Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee.

If passed, the bill would establish a goal of powering 10 million homes and businesses with solar energy by 2020.

A recent report referenced at the 4th annual Solar America Cities meeting indicated that city permitting issues were responsible for adding as much as $2500 to the cost of solar power system installations.

The new bill, which seeks to incorporate the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative to make solar more competitive with conventional energy technologies, would also provide grants to communities in order to help fast-track solar energy permitting processes while also making them less 
costly and more efficient.

In a statement, the senators expressed that it will also help boost local economies, job growth and American manufacturing of solar technology.

Senator Boozman also indicated that the bill is “fully offset” by pointing out the fact that it “uses existing authorized spending to spur improvements in solar permitting and encourage the deployment of solar energy systems ” – a good thing, considering the planned budget cuts for 2012.

The full text of the bill is available here.

* Caleb Denison, EarthTechling