Before a solar system can be installed on a property, the system owner must complete all the necessary permitting requirements. Depending on the state, local government, type and size of the system, the permitting process requires significant time and cost, both on the residential and commercial scale. Understanding the various permitting requirements for each state and municipality can be quite difficult and burdensome to deal with, particularly for small installers with limited resources.
Ideally, the permitting process could be streamlined and made cost-effective with federal legislation that would standardize the permitting process. A streamlined and cost-effective permitting process for installers will yield increased solar deployment, both for photovoltaic (PV) and solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems on the residential and commercial scale. A report released by SunRun shows that a standardized permitting process for residential systems could reduce costs by $1 billion over 5 years.
SEIA is working to remove this market barrier through educating industry and policymakers, easing permitting times, and creating an environment of success for model permitting on the federal, state, and local levels.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Boozman (R-AR) would provide local communities with a grant and the tools to make solar permitting more efficient. This legislation is S. 1108, also called the “10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2011” (pdf). SEIA submitted a letter in support of the legislation, and will continue to monitor any action with the legislation.
- The Vote Solar Initiative has several excellent resources on solar permitting, including an interactive map of solar permitting costs in various cities around the United States. Add information on the permitting process for your city to help build a national database.
- Solar ABCS has a model expedited permit process for PV installations smaller than 15 kW.
- Solar Tech has an ongoing, collaborative effort to reduce solar permitting time and cost.
- The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments has a section on streamlining and improving the solar permitting process.