*Pre-requisite for SolSmart Silver and Gold designation. 20 points
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Increasing permitting and inspection staff knowledge of solar energy systems and of how to properly ensure systems are installed in compliance with building and electrical codes can increase process efficiency, thereby reducing demands on staff time and resources. Local jurisdictions can require staff to attend full or half-day workshops (either live or online) and provide or create resources designed to help staff keep up with advances in solar technologies. Cross-training can ensure that all staff are able to respond to solar PV permit requests.
Resources and Examples:
Inspections of standard rooftop solar energy systems installed on existing homes should be consolidated into a single inspection trip. Any inspections should be limited to the electrical, structural, and fire safety aspects of the system; excessive reviews add to the time and cost of the inspection process while doing little to ensure system efficiency or further protect public health or safety. Building and Fire Authorities can enter into agreements allowing for a single agency to conduct all inspections for systems meeting certain design standards.
Though inspections of standard rooftop solar PV systems can take as little as 15 minutes to complete, inspection appointment windows can be up to four or more hours long. Replacing appointment windows with scheduled appointments will ensure the inspector and installer are both prepared for the inspection to occur when both arrive on site. This can save time and money for both the local government and the installer (and for solar customers as well).
Providing a public list of inspection requirements online will reduce information asymmetries between inspectors and solar contractors and help ensure that all items in the inspection process have been adequately addressed before inspectors arrive on site. In addition, these checklists can be used to highlight “common mistakes” made by contractors.
Reducing response times between inspection requests and scheduled inspections can increase the speed with which solar PV installations are completed. Increased efficiency in this area can allow installers to complete more installations in the same amount of time, allowing fixed business costs to be spread around more customers and reducing total installation costs for each customer.
Similar to online permit submittal, review, and approval processes, an online option for scheduling and managing inspection requests can promote process efficiency and reduce demands on time and resources for local government staff.
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