quicker solar permits in California

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.


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. As the state continues to lead the nation in solar capacity and job growth in the industry, the Solar Access Act could help California maintain its position as a leader in clean energy.