Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) has released its California Solar Permitting Guidebook. This book helps Californians understand the new act signed last fall by Governor Jerry Brown, helping to ease the bureaucracy of residential installations.
By 2020, California plans on having one-third of its electricity come for clean resources, thanks to the state’s renewable energy portfolio standards. California was #1 in 2014 solar PV installations, as it typically is.
“California leads the nation in rooftop solar installations, but achieving the state’s ambitious goals for renewable energy will require even greater solar adoption, and the permitting process has been a major barrier,” said CSE Senior Project Director Tamara Gishri-Perry.
This year’s guide is a one-stop shop for consumers and administrators on the solar permitting changes made in the Golden State. Topics discussed include: system layouts, permit fee caps, and inspections. This is critical information for Californians looking to install solar on their rooftops. CSE already plans on adding a section on solar thermal installations for next year’s edition.
CSE has done a good job providing necessary information in a clear and concise way for this booklet. A toolkit in the guidebook is provided. This includes a checklist for one- and two-bedroom homeowners for expediting the process of solar installations.
Perhaps the guidebook’s best element is explaining the new installation permit fees. Solar advocates have been critical of these “soft fees,” which can affect if consumers want to choose solar for their homes. The permit fee limit for solar systems 15 kW or less is $500. For home solar systems greater than 15 kW, it’s $500 plus $15 for each kW after the first 15 kW. For commercial systems, the permit fee limit for 50 kW and under is $1,000. The fee for any business solar system between 50 kW and 250 kW is $1,000 for the first 50 kW and $7 for every kW after. Maximum permit fees for commercial systems greater than 250 kW is $2,400 plus $5 for each kW past the first 250 kW.
California has always been on the cutting edge of renewable energy policy, in making these technologies more accessible to its people. Residential solar prices falling to $3.60/watt in the 3rd quarter of 2014, along with this new guidebook helping residents understand the new rules, could help California see even more solar installations than it would have otherwise.