Thanks to you, more than 140 cities are cutting solar red tape

This winter, thousands of solar users successfully pushed their local governments to streamline their solar permitting process, helping to make it easier for their neighbors to go solar.

See if your city or county has taken the first step. If you don’t see them on the list, you can use these resources to nudge them to do so.

The problem we are trying to solve: Local permitting requirements too often drive up the cost of going solar in California

It is twice as expensive to go solar in California than in many other developed places. A typical rooftop solar project costs homeowners $22,800 in California. In Japan: $13,200. In Germany: $9,600. [1]

The major difference is that in California, outdated permitting requirements and staffing shortages can add months of delays and thousands of dollars to solar and battery projects. This is not necessary. It isn’t difficult to determine if a proposed project meets local and state codes.

To be clear, permitting is still important, as are thorough inspections after the project is completed. Both help ensure a project meets safety and consumer protection standards.

Solution: Streamlining solar permitting can make it cheaper and faster for you and your neighbors to install solar panels and/or batteries.

There are several options for cities to streamline and standardize their rooftop solar permitting, including a new online software system called Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus. Local governments can use it to issue permits instantly to most residential rooftop solar projects that meet state codes. [2]

This software was developed by the federal Department of Energy and leading building safety organizations. It is free for cities to use. More than 20 California cities and counties already use it. [3]

A new state law requires most cities and counties to streamline their solar permitting process

  • The Solar Access Act (SB 379) was recently passed into law to help make that happen.
  • This new law requires online, instant, automated permitting for rooftop solar and storage through SolarAPP+ or an equivalent system. By standardizing and streamlining the rooftop solar permitting process, it becomes faster and cheaper for residents to go solar.

After the law passed, thousands of solar users sprang into action to nudge local officials to act

Thousands of people signed petitions to their city and county elected officials or spoke in-person at City Council meetings.

The message to local elected officials was simple: you should implement the Solar Access Act quickly because it’s the right thing to do, it’s the law, and it won’t cost you money.

More than 140 local governments took action because of your efforts!

  • The first major benchmark was for cities to apply for a grant to help them implement software to streamline their solar permitting process. More than 300 cities applied for the grant by the May 1st deadline, and 141 of those cities took action because Solar Rights Alliance members nudged them to do so!
  • There are still grant funds left. Your town can still apply.
  • Depending on their size, cities have until either September 30th of this year or next year to be in full compliance with the Solar Access Act (SB 379). [4]

See if your city or county has taken the first step to comply with the Solar Access Act. If you don’t see them on the list, you can use these resources to nudge them to do so.

[1] SolarAPP+ Two-Pager

[2] See Footnote 1

[3] SolarAPP+ Adoption At a Glance

[4] Solar Access Act Fact Sheet