I love it when good news builds and builds: Remember last week, when we wrote about efforts to take the paperwork out of solar permitting? Well today we’ve got even more good news: A new project that will bring faster permitting to almost a million residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The East Bay Green Corridor, part of the East Bay Economic Development Association, has just announced a partnership with Sungevity and Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development to streamline solar permitting for nine cities that include more than 950,000 residents.
The partnership developed a slew of changes to structure guidelines governing rooftop solar permits that are aimed at cutting red tape, decreasing installation times and reducing the overall soft costs of solar installation — all of which will help the region’s solar industry expand its presence in the East Bay.
“We heard the need to standardize the solar permitting process and make it more business- and user-friendly,” Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Chair of the East Bay Green Corridor, said in a statement. “Our new process will create high quality jobs and help our region reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintain a healthy planet for the next generation.”
The groups involved in the partnership had support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, a program that seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade.
Among the details of the new process, which will streamline solar permits for the cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond and San Leandro:
- Standardized residential solar permitting approved across 9 cities and implemented by 9/22/13;
- 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 engineering assessments;
- Significant potential cost savings from allowing one to avoid engineering assessments.
On that last point, the partnership points to survey data gathered by Clean Power Finance that suggest engineering fees can vary greatly, running as high as $3,500 for a solar system.
California has long been one of the best states for solar, charting the course that the rest of the country is following to a clean energy future. So it’s especially to see this push for easier solar installations in the East Bay. Solar technology is is a good place, solar prices are in an even better place, and homeowner awareness of the benefits of solar is growing rapidly — the final piece of the puzzle is to make it easy to install solar panels, and today marks a great step down that path.