Roadblocks for Burlington residents hoping to go solar? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Roadblocks for Burlington residents hoping to go solar?

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Doug Facey has big plans for his bare roof.

"We'll have eight in the upright position and then we will have five turned to the side laying below the eight," Facey said.

The Burlington homeowner has spent the last year prepping his home for solar panels. He's put on a new roof, prepped his yard and signed on with a solar provider that hoped to get started weeks ago.

"The installer has been doing projects nearby," Facey said. "I mean, they did one just three houses down and they have done some others nearby, but apparently the rules have been changing."

Those Burlington city rules he says have to do with costly structural assessments that installer SunCommon says caught them by surprise after hundreds of similar installations across the state.

"It has been more challenging in Burlington than any other part of the state, so far, to help homeowners go solar. And the biggest challenge has been understanding exactly what the city is requiring and some of those requirements seem to be changing over time," said James Moore of SunCommon.

The mayor says he's been a longtime solar supporter and worries about the bad rep.

"I am concerned by it. I was concerned by it a year ago; that is why I went to that event, that is why we have this process to try and make things better," said Mayor Miro Weinberger, D-Burlington.

Weinberger says solar is still a relatively new option for city homeowners and that issues may arise. He's working with his staff to make sure the rules and regs are clear.

"We require structural work for many things, so I think it is certainly not new that you would have the building inspector in response to an application to a permit would say you need a structural engineer to review that," Weinberger said.

SunCommon says new rules can come with new costs that could make solar too pricey for some customers. It's something they say they'll have to sort out and that clear regulations about structural standards will help.

"We're used to jumping over hurdles, but we need to know what they are so we can clear them," Moore said.

Facey planned to have the work done during his summer vacation, and with nothing to show for it so far, he's hoping the confusion gets sorted out soon.

"I want to have 13 solar panels up there that are in compliance with whatever the codes are," Facey said.

Facey says a structural assessment could tack $1,000 to the final price tag for the project. Meanwhile, his neighbor a few houses down is taking advantage of the sun with his panels up and running.

The mayor says his team plans to meet with the parties involved to try to sort out the confusion next week.

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