Green Corridor's Streamlined Solar Energy Permitting Process

In September 2010, the Principals of the Green Corridor including the Mayors of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Oakland, Richmond and San Leandro, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Chancellor of UC Berkeley, President of Cal State University East Bay and the Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District identified the need for a uniform solar energy permitting process as their number one priority policy.

The Green Corridor heard the need from the solar industry to standardize the permitting process and make it more efficient to do business across 8 city jurisdictions—all of which have individual processes. A streamlined system will reduce permit approval time and costs, help boost the local market, create high quality jobs for trained workforces, and meet cities’ climate action goals.

A study by SunRun in January 2011 states that inspection and permitting fees for the average U.S. residential photovoltaic (PV) installation add an average of $2,500 or $0.50 cents per watt, which amounts to an additional 33% of what a homeowner would spend on panels. This could rise to 50% as equipment and technology costs fall.

The White House and the Department of Energy have also recognized the need to reduce these bureaucratic “soft costs” and are urging municipalities to adopt a streamlined permitting process.

See: San Francisco Chronicle’s March 23rd coverage, “Solar power firms bemoan costly permit process”

In partnership with the Bay Area Climate Collaborative and SolarNexus, and as part of SolarTech’s 2011 California Solar Challenge, the Green Corridor’s solar energy permitting guidelines will be out this summer and will integrate input from solar industry leaders, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and facilities managers.

Following this will be an implementation period throughout the Green Corridor. While cities such as Philadelphia and Portland already have streamlined processes in place, the Green Corridor will likely be an early regional adopter, which could serve as a model for the country.

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