Skip to main content

Reduce Soft Costs

Often, there are significant regulatory inefficiencies or permitting challenges that raise costs, lengthen timelines, or discourage investment in clean technologies. These "soft costs" can take many forms: large paperwork requirements for receiving rebates, burdensome environmental quality studies, slow permitting processes, etc. In many instances there are valid reasons for these requirements. Nevertheless, there is a trade-off that occurs between regulatory burden and financial attractiveness of clean technology investments.

Pre-zoning specific areas for specific types of infrastructure can be a promising approach to reducing soft costs for large clean energy projects. For example, a large area of desert, lacking critical wildlife habitat, might be pre-zoned as “solar-ready,” and solar projects in that area have greatly reduced requirements for project-specific permitting or approvals. Another way to lower soft costs is to standardize necessary forms and allow online submission (over the internet).