Palo Alto Solar Permitting Process Leads The Way

Solar permitting in the US is a nightmare in many places. In world-leading solar countries like Germany and Italy, the process is much, much simpler. However, some localities in the US have worked on streamlining their process. Palo Alto’s new residential solar permitting process is about as streamlined as it gets. Read more in this Solar Love repost:

Solar permitting, obsessively onerous, is one of the biggest obstacles holding back even faster solar energy growth across the United States. Several studies have identified this, and have identified permitting as one reason why solar power is about twice as expensive in the US as in Germany.

So, it’s great to hear that Palo Alto, CA (one of my favorite cities in the world) has just streamlined its residential solar permitting process. (Note: it is also one of just a few North American municipalities that has a solar feed-in tariff, the #1 driver of solar power growth around the world.)

Solar panels in Palo Alto. Admittedly, not residential ones. Photo Credit: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / / CC BY-SA

Solar panels in Palo Alto. Admittedly, not residential ones. Photo Credit: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious / / CC BY-SA

Chris Meehan of SolarReviews writes: “Under the new system, residents and business owners’ plans for PV systems may receive approval within five days of submitting all paperwork to the center. In fact, if a home or business owner wants to make an appointment with the city’s Development Center and has all the necessary paperwork in order, they could even walk out with an approved permit the day they go in. In reducing the time for permitting, the city also consolidated the inspection process.”

Palo Alto staff also commented. “In the few months we have been piloting this program since we last met with the PVAC we have seen drastic improvements in approval and pass rates for both plan checks and inspections,” said Development Service Director Peter Pirnejad. “Projects are getting through our process quicker and with more predictable results.”

“Process updates such as this advance our efforts for a fully open government. This type of collaboration between city staff and developers facilitates a deeper level of interaction within our community,” said Palo Alto City Manager James Keene.

This is a great step forward, and one that cities and counties across the continent should copy.