Four Local Governments Nab $15K for Adopting Solar Permitting App

September 15, 2023 by Dan McCue
Four Local Governments Nab $15K for Adopting Solar Permitting App
Rooftop solar. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — Four local governments will each receive a cash prize of $15,000 for their successful adoption of an online platform that instantly issues permits for code-compliant residential rooftop solar systems.

The four governments — Oro Valley, Arizona; Fremont, California; Tiffin, Iowa; and the city and county of Denver, Colorado — are the very first recipients of the new American-Made Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus prize. 

The contest, launched on Sept. 12, 2022, is held under the jurisdiction of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“SolarAPP+ makes it easier for local governments to approve code-compliant residential solar projects, and the SolarAPP+ Prize helps jurisdictions adopt the platform without having to worry about the incidental costs of adoption,” said Jeff Cook, who leads the SolarAPP+ team at NREL. 

Solar permitting can cause a major bottleneck for residential solar installations, adding weeks or even months to project timelines. 

SolarAPP+ was created to speed the permitting process and ensure code compliance for local governments and installers — while making it easier for homeowners across the United States to power their homes with the sun.

“Adopting SolarAPP+ will save our customers a significant amount of time in the permitting process and help safely bring these important projects to the market more quickly,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director of Community Planning and Development for the city and county of Denver. 

Aldrete noted that in 2022, Denver approved 3,738 solar applications. Roughly 70% of those applications may have been eligible to use SolarAPP+ to obtain a quick permit — saving city staff approximately 1,240 hours of total review time and reducing average residential solar permit timelines by 30 days.

A recent NREL study of SolarAPP+’s impact found that a typical SolarAPP+ project is permitted, installed and inspected approximately 13 business days sooner than projects permitted the traditional way. 

SolarAPP+ projects were also approximately 29% less likely to fail inspections than traditionally permitted projects.

Launched in 2021, SolarAPP+ has streamlined the rooftop solar system permitting process across the country with a total of 62 communities using the platform and 22,070 permits issued across 447 contractors. As of July 2023, 21 communities have publicly launched SolarAPP+, and 43 more are piloting the platform.

Although SolarAPP+ is free for communities to adopt, there are associated costs that arise during the implementation process. The SolarAPP+ Prize eases the burden of these costs for communities, helping accelerate the adoption of SolarAPP+.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • permitting
  • solar energy
  • SolarAPP+
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