California’s Solar Permitting Efficiency Act (A.B. 2188) is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) signature. The legislation could reduce the time and costs of installing solar in California. The legislation would simplify and streamline permitting and inspections for small solar inspections by unifying such procedures across the state and restricting local jurisdiction’s ability to levy fees.
“Many jurisdictions in the state have adopted best practices that have significantly cut down on permitting wait times, while maintaining important public health and safety standards,” said Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), bill author. “It’s time that we expand these practices statewide, which will help make solar more affordable and increase access to more California homeowners who want to control their electricity bills and generate their own clean energy.”
Currently the permitting process in California can take 65 days in some cities and towns, according to Muratsuchi. Under the proposed legislation cities and counties would have to create an expedited, streamlined permitting and inspection process for residential rooftop solar energy systems that meet building and safety standards and are based on best practices in the industry. Efforts are underway across many states to help simplify the rooftop solar power process. For instance, Colorado’s Solar Friendly Communities program has been successful in getting numerous cities across the state to speed the solar permitting process, bringing down the soft costs of solar.
One of the reasons why solar inspections and permitting can be simplified is that systems are relatively similar and straight forward. “Your typical home solar energy system has become practically cookie-cutter,” contended Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “From Chico to Chula Vista, we’re talking about the exact same product, design, and installation, yet many building departments require byzantine permits as if they are installing a nuclear power plant.”
Streamlining the permitting process and unifying it across the state could also lead to reduced workloads in jurisdictions’ building departments. “Streamlined permitting doesn’t mean weaker consumer protections,” said Tom Butts, city council member in Richmond, which has already adopted a streamlined permitting procedure akin to that envisioned in AB 2188. “Local governments run more smoothly by applying practical, tried and true efficiency measures to the permitting system.”
The bill is now headed to Brown’s desk who has until Sept. 30 to sign it into legislation.Tweet