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Federal money awarded for Dallas-Fort Worth solar energy growth

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A. Lee Graham Reporter   The North Central Texas Council of Governments has received $90,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to help encourage solar energy development in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.   Awarded as part of the Energy Department’s Rooftop Solar Challenge II program, the money comes as officials ask up to 30 local governments to suggest ways for making solar energy expansion easier in their respective communities.   Though solar hardware costs nationwide dropped from $3.28 per watt to $1.90 per watt between 2010 and 2012, permitting, inspection and other expenses known as “soft costs” remained the same at $3.32 per watt. The solar project aims to reduce solar soft costs, allowing clean energy to become more cost-effective and widespread nationwide.   As part of its grant work, the North Texas agency will conduct workshops and training seminars as it seeks to establish a working group of solar industry stakeholders, utility representatives and local government planners.   The agency plans to pursue implementation strategies for solar, relying on local government officials and industry representatives to help find the best approach for the region.   Officials hope the efforts achieve standardized solar practices, yielding measurable improvement in solar market conditions in Dallas-Fort Worth. The North Central Texas Council of Governments, a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas. It has 240 member governments, including 16 counties, 170 cities, 24 school districts and 30 special districts.   More information is available at www.nctcog.org./trans.   lgraham@bizpress.net

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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