Quicker Solar Permits Anticipated in California for 2023

Quicker Solar Permits Anticipated in California for 2023 and 2024

Quicker Solar Permits Likely on The Way in California

New law will speed up the state’s clean energy transition by requiring online solar permitting in the state’s biggest counties

The suspense over new solar net metering policies in California continues to draw lots of attention, and for good reason. But while we wait for the state’s Public Utilities Commission to make a decision on net metering, other policy changes are in progress that should make the state more solar-friendly.

Last August 2022, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 379, the Solar Access Act. The goal of the Solar Access Act is to speed California’s transition to clean energy by streamlining the solar installation process. It will require the state’s largest counties – all those with more than 150,000 residents – to implement online “instant” permitting for residential solar and solar-plus-storage projects.

For solar installers and homeowners going solar, the “paperwork” aspects of a solar project can be a major source of headaches and delays. The Solar Access Act would reduce bureaucratic barriers to solar adoption in the Golden State by mandating that the most populous counties use a web-based platform like the Department of Energy-developed SolarAPP+. The Department of Energy encouraged local governments to adopt SolarAPP+ or similar platforms as one of the best ways to promote solar energy in their communities.

Several local jurisdictions in California and Arizona are already using online permitting platforms; the Department of Energy found that jurisdictions using instant permitting saw solar installs completed an average of two weeks faster. Pleasant Hill, California, in the east San Francisco Bay area, has achieved same-day approvals for solar projects since it began to use SolarAPP+.

California Boosts Clean Energy Transition with New Law and Energy Storage Program

- The Solar Access Act is not the only recent law aimed at promoting clean energy in California. In September 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 99, which provides funding for a statewide energy storage program. The program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the reliability of California's electricity grid by incentivizing the installation of energy storage systems.

- According to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), California installed more solar capacity in 2021 than any other state in the US. The report shows that California's solar industry employed over 86,000 people in 2021, and the state has a total installed solar capacity of over 35 GW. The Solar Access Act is expected to further increase solar adoption in the state, which could lead to more job growth in the industry.

- The Solar Access Act could also have environmental benefits beyond reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional permitting processes can require paper documents to be submitted and reviewed, which can lead to the destruction of forests and other natural habitats. By requiring online permitting, the Solar Access Act could reduce the environmental impact of solar installations.

Easy Permitting Process For Rooftop Solar Panels In California

California is leading the charge towards a greener future by simplifying the process of installing rooftop solar panels for homeowners.

In a bid to accelerate the transition to clean energy, the state has devised a straightforward plan: slash the waiting time for contractors to obtain permits from local governments. Enter SolarApp+, an innovative tech tool fueled by government funding. This tool revolutionizes the entire permitting process, bringing automation to the forefront for cities and counties statewide.

The implementation of SolarApp+ marks a significant advancement in the solar industry. Contractors now enjoy the luxury of securing permits for standard rooftop solar installations almost instantly, provided they adhere to all the necessary guidelines. This seamless process represents a substantial departure from the traditional waiting period that could stretch for weeks before receiving the coveted green light.

But the benefits don't stop there. The efficiency of SolarApp+ translates to not only quicker approvals but also a more accessible and widespread integration of solar power. Homeowners, now faced with a simplified and expedited process, are encouraged to embrace the benefits of clean energy without the hassle of prolonged bureaucratic procedures.
Moreover, the government's commitment to funding such technological solutions underscores its dedication to promoting sustainable practices and propelling California towards its clean energy goals. By leveraging SolarApp+, the state is not just making rooftop solar permits easier to obtain; it's actively fostering a culture of eco-conscious living.

As we witness these strides towards a more sustainable future, it becomes evident that California is not merely adapting to change; it's spearheading innovation that transforms the way we harness and adopt clean energy, one rooftop at a time.

Revolutionizing Solar Permits in California with SolarApp+

Revolutionizing Solar Permits in California with SolarApp

SolarApp+ is rolling out to approximately 500 government agencies in California, including Pleasant Hill, and 1,000 agencies in other states, as announced by officials on April 2021. These agencies aim to replicate the success witnessed in locations like San Jose, which experienced a substantial sixfold surge in residential solar panel approvals after launching its own swift online permit system several years ago.

According to Jeff Cook, the project lead for SolarApp+ at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, some jurisdictions in the country take up to a month and a half to process standard rooftop solar permits. This not only consumes valuable time for contractors but also leads to frustrating delays for homeowners.

You've lost six weeks of potential electricity bill savings just because you haven't been able to get that permit reviewed," Cook highlighted. "And it's not because the jurisdiction is sitting on them and not revising the permits — there are huge backlogs. One of the key goals of the app is around helping overwhelmed jurisdictions."

The potential for the app's expansion grows with a bill progressing through the state Legislature. Sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, SB617 would mandate automated solar permitting in counties with more than 150,000 residents. The bill received bipartisan approval from the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee on Monday.

To meet our climate goals, a dramatic expansion of solar and energy storage is critical," emphasized Wiener. "The permitting process often takes way too long and is too expensive. Automated, app-based permitting is the future, and we should bring the future to California now."

Developed with a $920,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, SolarApp+ received support from companies like Tesla and Sunrun.

Accela, a San Ramon-based firm providing software to local governments, plays a pivotal role in the app's expansion. Agencies contracting with Accela can effectively integrate SolarApp+ as a complimentary add-on, substantially reducing costs related to human reviews of plans.

About 10% of Californians currently have solar panels on their homes, a figure that needs to triple in the next decade to align with the state's climate goals, according to the California Solar and Storage Association. This industry group played a role in SolarApp+'s development.

The potential adoption of SolarApp+ in cities and counties statewide, prompted by SB617, offers more than just expediting approval processes, supporters argue.

SolarApp+ can certainly increase the speed with which a permit is approved, but even in locations where it's already moving pretty quickly, the other benefit of the app is error-proofing," stated Igor Tregub, senior policy adviser with the solar and storage association. "It actually has the potential to improve the accuracy of the approvals."

Large counties subject to SB617's requirements would require compliance by cities and unincorporated areas with more than 50,000 residents by September 30, 2022, while smaller areas would need to comply by the same date in 2023.


The Solar Access Act is a significant step forward for California's clean energy transition. By streamlining the solar installation process, the law could help reduce bureaucratic barriers to solar adoption and increase the speed of solar installations in the state's largest counties. The law also aligns with California's goal of achieving 100% clean energy by 2045. In tandem with these efforts, the introduction of SolarApp+ further enhances the efficiency of the permitting process, contributing to the state's prominence in solar capacity and job growth. As California continues to lead the nation in clean energy initiatives, the Solar Access Act, coupled with SolarApp+, positions the state as a steadfast leader in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions.

Take the next step towards a solar-powered future! Explore the benefits of SolarApp+ and expedite your solar permit process today.