Despite the fact that the solar industry has been around for nearly 50 years, and despite the prevalence of national standards for safety and code compliance for solar, the solar industry faces a patchwork of local solar processes — in fact, nearly every town, county, state, and utility service territory across the United States has a different set of ordinances, procedures, and regulations for solar.
Local governments can implement streamlined solar permitting policies that save residents and businesses money, time, and encourage more solar adoption in your community. See below for resources on best practices for solar permitting.
Expedited Permit Process for PV Systems
To help standardize the solar permitting process, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) developed a model expedited solar permitting process and fillable permit forms to help streamline the process across jurisdictions. The accompanying report (PDF) provides a detailed overview of solar technologies and standardized permitting approaches.
The Wasatch Solar Challenge modified the main pages of the Solar ABCs form to include wind and snow load as well as zoning and HOA questions relevant to the permitting process. Download a copy of the Solar ABCs Expedited Model Permitting Form modified for Utah by the Wasatch Solar Challenge.
Model Solar Permit Checklist
The Photovoltaic Installation Plan Review Checklist has been adapted from Summit County’s permitting checklist, which provides applicants a clear overview of what they need to submit and saves all parties time and money. This template is provided so that it can be enhanced with information specific to individual jurisdictions.
Why Move To Online Permitting?
Online permitting gives contractors and citizens the option to apply for a permit at a time most convenient for them, reducing the time and expense of making an office visit. Online permitting enables local governments to more easily detect and fix errors, while also reducing the time required for grant approval and making permit tracking easier and more streamlined.
A number of jurisdictions have already moved their permitting to an online process; among other Utah jurisdictions, two Wasatch Solar Challenge jurisdictions – Salt Lake City and Summit County – now offer online permitting. To learn more about the benefits of online permitting, get in touch with building officials in these communities to hear about their experience.
If your community can’t move to online permitting, consider adding as much information as possible to your government website to save time and costs; consider allowing email submission of certain forms (instead of in-person submissions), and consider tracking the status of all permits on-line to facilitate faster turnaround times. Lastly, consider adopting the Expedited Solar Permit (with fillable PDF forms) and Solar Permit Checklist to enable a more streamlined solar permitting process.