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Why Simplify Your Community’s Solar Permitting Process?

Permitting is one of the biggest challenges to solar growth at the local level. Across the 18,000 local jurisdictions in the U.S., the solar permitting process differs greatly and is often expensive, time-consuming, and outdated.

By implementing a streamlined and more standardized permitting process, local governments can make installing solar faster, easier, and more affordable for their staff, local residents, businesses, and solar companies. An important byproduct of a simplified process is making solar more affordable so that much more solar can be installed.

For SolSmart participants, adopting the solar permitting processes outlined below will meet SolSmart criteria P-1/P-2/P-3/P-6/P-7.

For a step-by-step guide to the simplified permitting process, keep reading below. For a general introduction to codes, permitting, and inspection for solar projects, read Solar Energy: SolSmart’s Toolkit for Local Governments.


What is a Simplified Permitting Process?

  • The term “simplified permit process” refers to an organized permitting process by which a majority of small photovoltaic (PV) systems can be permitted quickly and easily. It does not apply to all types of PV systems.
  • It is intended to simplify the structural and electrical review of a small PV system project, establish guidelines to determine when a PV project is within the boundaries of typical, well-engineered systems, and minimize the need for detailed engineering studies and unnecessary delays.
  • The streamlined process is not intended to circumvent the engineering process. It is intended to show clear conformity to code requirements.



How to Develop a Simplified Solar Permitting Process

The following steps are intended to provide a format whereby local jurisdictions and contractors can permit simple PV system installations. This format adheres to all building, residential, fire, and electrical codes set for PV systems published by the International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association. The Structural and Electrical Commentaries in Steps 2 and 3 provide background explanations for these guidelines.

Step 1: Gather Required Information for Solar Permit

Step 2: Structural PV Array Mounting Requirements Checklist

Step 3: Electrical PV System Requirements Checklist


Additional Resources