Innovative Policies » "Rapid PV Permit" Guide

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PART I: INTRODUCTION TO THE GUIDE

The nine cities of the Green Corridor- Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, San Leandro and Richmond - have developed a regional, standardized permitting process for the most common residential photovoltaic systems on single family homes. This guide describes the permitting process that will allow experienced installers to obtain permits quickly and efficiently, with a minimum of cost.

Details of New Streamlined Process

  • Rapid over-the-counter permitting in 6 cities; 3-7 day turnaround in 3 cities;
  • Cost-recovery permit fees or lower in all cities;
  • Innovative structural guidelines allowing homeowners, installers & cities to bypass expensive and time-consuming engineering assessments

Green Corridor cities will be streamlining even further with electronic processes down the road as resources are available. Fees are also subject to change, so confirm with city of interest before proceeding.

Installations Qualifying for "Rapid PV Permits"

  • Single family residences (1 and 2 dwelling units)
  • Maximum 10 kW system
  • Mounted no further than 10 inches from bottom of array to roof
  • Weighs no more than 5 lbs per square foot
  • Conforms with structural requirements and has no more than one layer of roofing
  • Conforms with fire access and labeling requirements

Electrical Permit
For qualifying “Rapid PV Permit” installations, a completed Solar PV Standard Electrical Plan is required.

Structural review
Photovoltaic systems add a modest amount of weight to a roof. Solar support components manufacturers provide good design guidelines for the arrays above the roof, but leave the review of supporting roof framing to others.  The structural checklist provides an easy over-the-counter method to assure code officials that the roof can support the PV array.  For qualifying flush-mounted PV systems on wood framed homes, the checklist provides rigorous structural assurance without requiring installers or homeowners to retain costly structural engineering services.

Fire Safety
Local governments must ensure that systems are safe for occupants and emergency responders. Fire fighters must be able to safely traverse a roof and perform a variety of tasks to fight a fire if necessary. Fire regulations require that electrical equipment be clearly labeled and that sufficient access be maintained on the roof and around panel arrays. Please refer to the local fire codes of the respective jurisdictions to which you are applying for standards.

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