Communities Rely on Permitting to Grow Solar
In contrast to net metering, interconnection and other state-level policies, solar permitting happens at the city or county level, which includes 25,000 jurisdictions across the country. In order to drive down the installed cost of renewable energy, consistency and standardization are key with so many jurisdictions involved.
IREC helps shape the national conversation around permitting by spreading the word about innovative processes some communities have adopted. Outreach, resources and training are provided for communities interested in improving their permitting and inspection procedures. Best practices examples show how forward-thinking jurisdictions are providing transparent and efficient permitting and inspection procedures, streamlining procedures that lower costs for solar developers and ultimately consumers.
Updates and Trends
IREC recognizes that the responsibility for improving the permitting process needs to be shared by the solar industry and the permitting authorities. Many permitting authorities across the country have recently been burdened with high volumes of solar permit applications. Keeping the process moving efficiently is as important for them as it is for the solar industry. So IREC is helping to identify reforms that offer benefits to both.
IREC has identified three steps central to the permitting process, which jurisdictions can review and target for improvements:
- Provision of pre-application information that outlines what the technical requirements and procedures are for obtaining a solar permit;
- Streamlining the permitting application submittal and review process to ensure compliance with applicable codes is verified in a manner efficient for the installer and the municipality; and
- Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of field inspections by providing proper training and methods for scheduling such inspections.
As jurisdictions streamline their processes, many also revisit their fee structure to ensure that fees appropriately compensate jurisdictions for their time, but do not pose overly burdensome obstacles for solar developers.