Monday, November 28, 2005

City fees cast cloud over solar energy

While lip service is done to promoting renewable energy, local regulations are doing solar power a disservice.

How much you'll pay in city fees to put solar panels on your home depends on where you live -- and some fees around Silicon Valley are so high they are placing a cloud over renewable energy, according to a new study.

Saratoga, for example, charges $95 for a permit to install solar panels on a house. Yet in Los Gatos, two miles away, city planners will sock a homeowner with a $1,287 bill for a permit to install the same system.

The findings come from a survey of 40 cities in San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito counties by the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club.

``There's a huge gap in what various cities charge,'' said Carl Mills, a Milpitas technical writer who helped compile the survey. ``Something is very wrong.''