Solar Permitting and Inspection Solutions During COVID-19

Go To COVID-19 Solar Resources & Solutions

At SolSmart, we are getting increased interest from our communities in methods and processes that allow communities to continue permitting and inspections with the safety of the community and staff in mind. For the most part, this involves moving as many processes as possible to online platforms. If your community is ready to consider these steps, we are ready to help you. As we navigate this unprecedented and challenging time, the SolSmart team will continue to serve as a resource for communities to remain open for solar business. Many building departments in communities across the country have closed or greatly reduced services, causing a major disruption to the construction industry at large, with substantial impacts on solar installation. The widespread disruptions to regular services and operations underscore the great value of streamlined online permitting and inspection processes that allow local economies to continue to benefit from solar energy.

Online permitting and inspection has been successfully implemented in diverse communities across the United States, with about a third of SolSmart-designated communities nationwide already offering an online permitting process. Providence, RI;  Kansas City, MO; Decorah, IA; and many more local governments have taken steps toward streamlined, virtual permitting or inspection processes. It’s anticipated that this trend will continue, and most likely accelerate, in the coming months. As we adjust to social distancing and adapt our regular operations to this “new normal,” we’re seeing authorities having jurisdiction around the country establish permit and inspection processes online that allow solar systems to continue being installed. For example, the inspection office in Boxford, MA, has re-opened remotely, with a new process for inspections by photos submitted and reviewed via email. In Sonoma County, CA (SolSmart Gold), inspection services have transitioned to remote video technology. The city of Sacramento, CA (SolSmart Gold), is also offering virtual interactive inspections instead of field inspections.

While this transition requires an adjustment in operations, there are a few steps building departments can take to enable remote permit approvals and continue to ensure quality installations:

Despite these unprecedented circumstances, the SolSmart team is still working hard to provide resources for communities to stay open for solar business. We can provide guidance on implementation of online permitting or inspection solutions through no-cost technical assistance from the SolSmart team. These actions may help communities achieve SolSmart designation or move to a higher designation level. We encourage you to reach out with any questions, or to share challenges and solutions.

SolSmart’s COVID-19 Solar Resources and Solutions:

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