Council wants solar fees to go even lower

DOWNEY - A plan to encourage energy conservation by cutting the cost of solar panel permit fees in half did not go far enough for the City Council, who punted the issue back to staff for retooling on Tuesday.A survey by the Sierra Club earlier this year found that Downey charged an average of $1,164 for solar permits, one of the steepest rates in Southern California. City officials responded with a plan to cut the fees by 50 percent. While the proposed fees would not have covered the city's cost in reviewing and inspecting solar panel installations, it would have promoted solar energy use in Downey, deputy city manager Gilbert Livas wrote in a staff report. Mayor Mario Guerra and Councilman Luis Marquez, however, proposed cutting fees even further with a flat fee of $200. "If we really want to encourage green, we need to take a bold step forward," said Marquez, who, like Guerra, is a member of the city's Green Task Force. The issue is expected to be brought back at a later date for consideration from the rest of the Council. Last year, the city issued eight permits for solar panel installations. Of the eight, the highest fee was $4,939, paid by Staples at Downey Landing.

********** Published: August 14, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 17