Why Simplify Your Community’s Solar Permitting Process?

NEW: This simplified solar permitting process now includes guidelines for solar and energy storage. See the full PDF version of National Simplified Residential PV and Energy Storage Permit Guidelines here, along with supporting commentary and structural commentary. (Updated September 2021)

Permitting is one of the biggest challenges to solar growth at the local level. Across the 18,000 local jurisdictions in the U.S., the solar permitting process differs greatly and is often expensive, time-consuming, and outdated.

By implementing a streamlined and more standardized permitting process, local governments can make installing solar faster, easier, and more affordable for their staff, local residents, businesses, and solar companies. An important byproduct of a simplified process is making solar more affordable so that much more solar can be installed.

For SolSmart participants, adopting the solar photovoltaic (PV) or PV + energy storage system (ESS) permitting process outlined below will meet SolSmart criteria PI-1/PI-2/PI-5/PI-7.

What is a Simplified Permitting Process?

  • The term “simplified permit process” refers to an organized permitting process by which a majority of small  PV systems and ESSs can be permitted quickly and easily. It does not apply to all types of PV systems and ESSs
  • It is intended to simplify the structural and electrical review of a small PV or PV + ESS project, establish guidelines to determine when a PV or PV + ESS project is within the boundaries of typical, well-engineered systems, and minimize the need for detailed engineering studies and unnecessary delays.
  • The streamlined process is not intended to circumvent the engineering process. It is intended to show clear conformity to code requirements.



How to Develop a Simplified Solar Permitting Process

The following steps are intended to provide a format whereby local jurisdictions and contractors can permit simple PV or PV+ESS installations. This format adheres to all building, residential, fire, and electrical codes set for PV and PV+ESS published by the International Code Council (ICC) and National Fire Protection Association. The Commentaries in each Step provide background explanations for these guidelines.

Step 1: Gather Required Information for PV or PV + ESS Permit

Step 2: Review PV System Electrical Code Installation Requirements

Step 3: Review ESS Electrical Code Installation Requirements

Step 4: Review ESS Residential Code Installation Requirements

Step 5: Review PV and ESS Electrical Code Interconnection Requirements

Step 6 (Simplified): Review Structural PV Array Mounting Requirements

Step 6 (Detailed): Review Structural PV Array Mounting Requirements


Additional Resources