Nine Cities Join Forces to Streamline Solar Permits, and Project Permit Provides Help for All

Solar Energy System InstallationThere have been many hurdles to jump in the quest to switch to renewable sources of energy, and great strides have been made in the U.S. One challenge that remains in many regions is clearing the red tape involved with acquiring proper permits for the installation of solar panels. Nine cities in California have joined together for the express purpose of streamlining solar permits. There is also help available to everyone, thanks to a website and initiative called Project Permit devoted to the same purpose.

The solar industry has registered complaints for years about large disparities in the cost of solar permitting fees charged by California cities, whether for schools, businesses, churches, or homes. In addition to the cost issue, the amount of time required to maneuver through the bureaucracy of getting permits processed has been an obstruction and a source of frustration.

The good news is that nine East Bay cities have collaborated to make solar permitting a simpler process, an effort that is projected to save homeowners and contractors anywhere from $850 to $3,500 per solar installation. The strategy involves reducing the need to acquire outside engineering assistance in the cities of San Leandro, Richmond, Oakland, Hayward, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Albany, Alameda, and Berkeley. This team effort could have an even more widespread effect by serving as a blueprint for how to streamline the processing of energy permits related to other sustainable energy projects.

In pursuing a switch to solar power, it is not unusual for a homeowner or business owner to have to wait as long as four months simply for the solar permit. By standardizing the permitting process, the time delay should be reduced by at least 25%. When the entire process of getting solar energy systems installed is quicker and easier, the likelihood of customers recommending the experience to others will be much greater.

These cooperative East Bay cities aren’t the only ones to recognize the significance of improving the permitting system. Project Permit is a very helpful website providing valuable resources to help anyone in any community to put the wheels in motion to reduce the amount of red tape.

Project Permit provides a scoring system for solar permitting practices in municipalities throughout the U.S. and shares steps with local leaders and permitting offices for putting best practices in place.

For anyone who wants to help improve the solar permitting process in their town, Project Permit provides three easy steps to follow:

  1. Expanding Solar PV System InstallationsStart by checking to see whether or not the city/county where you live measures up to best practices. There is an interactive map on the website which will reveal their score.
  2. Download a “Simplifying Solar Permitting” packet, personalize it with your name and address, and add the mayor’s address. Send the packet to the mayor along with a fact sheet that’s also on the Project Permit website.
  3. Send the packet to the mayor. The website even provides email addresses for mayors across the U.S. Also email Project Permit, and your action will be followed up on with the mayor’s office.

The cost of solar panels has dropped significantly in recent years, but sometimes progress toward increasing solar installations is hindered by other factors. Complex and time-consuming permitting trips a lot of people up, and it’s great news for solar that many are working to cut the red tape.

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