Permitting delays are one of the most problematic aspects of residential solar deployment. Solar projects are governed by a patchwork of laws, regulations, and standards created by a host of governmental entities regarding zoning, construction, and more. 

The Streamlined Solar Permitting Solution our Industry Needs
The Streamlined Solar Permitting Solution our Industry Needs

Article from | Silfab Solar

Permitting delays are one of the most problematic aspects of residential solar deployment. Solar projects are governed by a patchwork of laws, regulations, and standards created by a host of governmental entities regarding zoning, construction, and more.  

SolarAPP+ is an online solution that makes the solar permitting process straight-forward and routine while preserving project safety and reliability. It can go a long way toward addressing costly, time-consuming permitting issues for local, state and federal governments, homeowners, and solar businesses. 


The Byzantine Headache that is Solar Permitting 

Residential solar permitting is a time-consuming and jurisdiction specific process. It causes backlogs and added costs to installations, up to $1.00 per watt (around $7,000), one third of the cost of an average-sized system, by some estimates. 

These added costs fall into two categories: Direct and Indirect Costs.  Direct costs are the costs of permit applications, inspections, and interconnection fees. Indirect costs are items like physical trips for permitting and inspections, completing and submitting permit applications, and lost business due to customers discouraged by long approval timelines. Research from 2021 by Solar Reviews found that about 80% of homeowners listed permitting issues and fees, partially incurred by these direct and indirect costs, as an important reason they did not install solar on their home. 


What is SolarAPP+?

SolarAPP+, or the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus software platform, is designed to help local governments streamline the residential rooftop solar permitting process for installers and homeowners. Released in 2021 by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolarAPP+ minimizes overhead costs and shortens the time associated with permitting by an average of 12 business days.  

The SolarAPP+ application software is accessed through an online portal that applies to both PV solar systems and energy storage systems, running real-time  compliance checks and processing building permit approvals for eligible rooftop systems. It integrates with existing government software, automates plan review, permit approval, project tracking, and standardizes up to 90% of standard system plans. Finally, SolarAPP+ provides an inspection checklist and final sign-off after actual system installation. 

Photo Credit: Premier Improvements Solar


An Industry-Transforming Solution

SolarAPP+ has benefits for all stakeholders. Jurisdictions weighed down by considerable volumes of residential solar system applications and paper-based processes enjoy a simplified, digitized review process that reduces the workload. Installers experience lower out-of-pocket permitting costs, improved customer experience due to a faster and more predictable permitting process, reduced install times, and fewer project cancellations. Homeowners benefit because their solar system is up and running more quickly and cost effectively. 

As of January 2024, more than 160 American communities have adopted the platform in California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Virginia and Connecticut. Communities in Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maryland, and more are running SolarAPP+ pilot programs. Jurisdictions have used it to approve more than 32,800 projects and save more than 33,000 hours of permitting staff time. The City of Oakland reported that they cut their approval time for residential solar projects by an average of five days, allowing more projects to receive same-day permits. During a pilot program in Tucson, Arizona, SolarAPP+ reduced the average permitting time for projects from 20 days to one day. 

“SolarAPP+ ensures solar projects meet code requirements, enhances safety, significantly shortens cycle time and accelerates the trajectory towards our climate goals,” said Mark Rodriguez, Executive Director of the SolarAPP+ Foundation. Jeff Cook, SolarAPP+ Program Lead at NREL stated that “The rapid adoption by local governments across the country proves that safe, automated permitting is not only possible, but delivers immense benefits to local governments, homeowners, and contractors.”  


Expediting the Clean Energy Transition

Solar installers in America are constantly contending with challenges related to supply chain issues, inconsistent state and federal policies, increasing competition, high soft costs, and more. Easing the friction brought by the permitting process is a benefit for any solar business – and its customers. By automating the permitting process, SolarAPP+ is playing a vital role in helping solar installers, local governments, and homeowners forward both the clean energy transition and energy independence.


For more information on SolarApp+ visit Ask your local permitting jurisdiction to adopt SolarApp+ for local permit processing.


Title Photo Credit: Banner Power Solutions
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

QuickBOLT - Expand Your Services

QuickBOLT - Expand Your Services

Explore new lines of income for your solar installation business with QuickBOLT's Stone Coated Steel roof mounts designed in partnership with metal roof manufacturers themselves. These SCS roof mounts work on all metal tile profiles and will help you bring in money you're missing out on. By not driving into the roofing material, QuickBOLT's Stone Coated Steel roof hooks maintain the integrity of the roof. Install with ease and confidence knowing your roof is protected against the harsh elements that these hooks are designed for.