Please join us in congratulating Marc Shackelford-Rowell, the third Genius Grant award recipient for 2021. Marc identified a problem when he joined the solar industry – the residential permitting process takes too long. So what did Marc do? He helped make it faster.
HeatSpring Genius Grants are cash payments with no strings attached. We recognize renewable energy professionals doing important work that might otherwise go unnoticed or overlooked. We want to reward and promote these people for their contributions to our industry.
We asked Marc to share some details and thoughts about his work. Below you’ll find his responses, along with some pictures and videos detailing the expedited permitting process for residential solar projects in Philadelphia that he helped create.
Why did you decide to apply for the Genius Grant?
Marc: Over the past year I worked towards streamlining the residential permitting process in the city of Philadelphia. It took a lot of collaboration between several different stakeholders. That group consisted of the company I work for Solar States, the Philadelphia Energy Authority, the dept. of Licenses and Inspections, and other local solar companies in the area. The end result was an amendment to a permit process that stood for years to a new process that allows any solar array under 10kW to have an expedited review. A process that used to take 3-6 weeks on average now allows contractors to get permits back in as early as 2 days, or the same day around if applied in person! It’s the first of it’s kind in the city.
Why is your work important for the industry?
Marc: One day turn around for permits in the city of Philadelphia for projects under 10kW. Unprecedented! This has made our projected time to install on a home from when a lead is first generated almost 40% faster on average. In some cases even faster than that!
Helping solar projects get faster reviews is an important win not just for homeowners and contractors in the city, but the industry as whole. This model can be replicated in other municipalities. Moreover, it demystifies a process that caused homeowners headaches and contractors money.
How Philadelphia’s EZ Permit Process Works
In October 2020, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections announced a new, streamlined permitting process for new solar pv installations smaller than 10kw. The old process took 3-6 weeks. EZ Permits could now be turned around in the same day.
Marc was one of many who helped make this happen. He credits the Philadelphia Energy Authority and many other solar installation companies for making this happen.
Looking Ahead to the Future
What do you hope to accomplish over the next 1-3 years?
Marc: In the next 1-3 years I have 2 deliverables I will focus on. The 1st is going to be streamlining the permitting process in Philadelphia even further, specifically for solar canopies. We have flat roofs on many of the buildings in Philadelphia. As a result, solar canopies have become a popular choice for homeowners. Though, getting a permit for them has been excruciating and has caused many bottlenecks with projects. Second, I plan to help create housing Net Zero homes for low to moderate income households. Philadelphia is one of the poorest big cities per capita. As a result many residents live under tight financial constraints and experience energy poverty. Net Zero homes will help residents live in houses that are healthier to live in and cheaper to operate and own in the long run.
Genius Grant Update
We’ve received so many impressive applications for the 2021 Genius Award. It’s not possible for us to fund all of the incredible people who have worked so hard to innovate. We’re going to announce more winners in the weeks ahead and look for other ways to support those who don’t win.
With sincere gratitude to all entrepreneurs and innovators,