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Top 4 Ways Automated Solar Letters Guarantee Savings & Increase Project Profitability

A consistently high-interest rate environment has made it increasingly difficult for solar installation companies to quickly cash flow on projects. Although the total cost of residential solar in the U.S. has declined over time, the proportion of soft costs on projects has grown over the past decade, according to SEIA and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. Soft costs have been found to account for up to 65 percent of solar project costs. Permitting is a key challenge when it comes to lowering solar project soft costs due to the fact that the permit requirements for solar installations vary greatly across jurisdictions. There are, in fact, 18,000 jurisdictions and 3,000 utilities across 50 U.S. states, all of which have their own protocols and processes when it comes to permitting solar projects. Below we cover the top four ways automated solar letters guarantee savings and increase project profitability on residential solar projects. 

#1: Reduce Permitting Time

By using automated solar letters, you can have your letter stamped within just one hour as opposed to a half day or longer. The reason automated solar letters can be completed so efficiently is that information from the Applied Technology Council (ATC) is automatically pulled and integrated into each solar letter, rather than having to gather information from multiple sources. Once the ATC information is added to the letter, calculations are automatically performed, and the letter is then sealed and sent out to the customer. The faster you can complete solar letters, the lower your project's soft costs will be. According to Ben Ogden, Manager of Design and Engineering at LGCY Power, using automated solar letters such as through has “helped reduce permitting times including through quick responses, efficient processing, and faster AHJ approvals.”

#2: Save 40% on Engineering Expenses 

Automated solar letters provide the same result as full plan sets for about 40 percent of the cost. These solar letters have all information in one single organized matter so that the building reviewer can look at them and understand all necessary data in order to provide safe, expedited and accurate approval of project plans. The engineering costs are significantly lower with automated solar letters because only one person needs to cover the work that would otherwise require three staff members.

#3: Lower AHJ Rejections 

As a result of investing in advanced automation and its database of over 40,000 authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), and associated codes that have been continuously updated since 1998, Solar Letters has been able to guarantee its 99 percent AHJ approval rate. You are guaranteed a first time approval rating or you will receive a full credit. AHJ rejections can increase time spent on a project from several days to weeks on end. This is because the AHJ reapplication time can take anywhere from a day up to four weeks for more complex jurisdictions like Miami Dade. The more time a project spends waiting for a permit, that’s the same amount of time that the equipment and the installation crews spend without installing a project. By significantly reducing AHJ rejections, you are able to complete projects and collect payments much more quickly. “With the more difficult AHJs in particular, has helped avoid rejections as well as drastically reduced previous AHJ rejection levels, saving us time and money in the process,” said Ben Ogden of LGCY Power. 

Project delays from AHJ rejections can also have unforeseen, additional costs. For example, Solar Letters recently had a customer come to their team after experiencing multiple AHJ rejections before they began using automated solar letters. These delays almost cost the customer the project because the delays took place near the end of the year. The rejections would have taken the project into the next year, which would have reduced tax incentives, thereby increasing project costs. Solar Letters was able to ensure the customer received the necessary approvals in time to complete the project in the target year. 

#4: Greater Cash Flow

By expediting project completion times through automated solar letters, you will also be able to execute more solar projects in less time. For example, when comparing the average engineering time required for a non-automated solar letter versus an automated solar letter, solar installers that use automated solar letters are able to complete 75 projects per month as opposed to just 21 projects. Completing more than triple the number of projects each month allows installers to increase their cash flow and expand to new markets. “Since we began using, our project timelines have been stellar, thus providing a greater and more consistent cash flow,” said Ben Ogden at LGCY Power.

If you have any questions about how to leverage automated solar letters in any of the 50 U.S. states, get in touch with an expert at Solar Letters today.


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