San José has set a bold goal to become the world’s first gigawatt solar city by 2040. The city worked with SolSmart to identify ways to improve the permitting process and reduce costs and wait times for installers and consumers. This will help the city do even more to expand its solar energy footprint, which already includes 22,000 installations totaling 168 MW as of 2018 — the most of any Northern California City. The city also leads by example with 6.5 MW of solar installed at 35 municipal properties. San José International Airport is one of the largest airport solar electric installations in the United States, offsetting 20 percent of the airport’s total electricity needs.
- Created an online permitting checklist, increasing transparency for community members and solar installers
- Reviewed local zoning codes and identified restrictions that intentionally or unintentionally prohibit solar PV development
- Allowed solar by-right accessory use in all zones (so solar installations don’t require special permits or hearings)
- Cross-trained both inspection and permitting staff on solar PV”>Cross-trained both inspection and permitting staff on solar PV
- Provided a streamlined permitting pathway for small PV systems”>Provided a streamlined permitting pathway for small PV systems
- Created a streamlined process to approve certain solar permit applications over the counter