As U.S. Eclipses 5 Million Solar Installations, SI2 Releases Automated Rooftop Permitting Model Policy 

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) released model policy that encourages the adoption of automated rooftop solar permitting software. This release comes as the U.S. hits 5 million solar installations, over 97% of which are on residential rooftops, and looks poised to double that total in the next 6 years.  

The model policy gives states a template to encourage local governments to adopt automated rooftop solar permitting software. The software helps lower the cost of rooftop solar permitting and inspection to governments, homeowners, and solar businesses by standardizing, streamlining and automating the permitting process.   

“As states grapple with meeting their clean energy goals, one of the easiest and most cost-effective steps they can take is to increase the efficiency of their rooftop solar permitting process,” said David Gahl, executive director of SI2. “As the industry progresses to installing 1 million rooftop systems every year, local governments will need to find ways to efficiently handle higher volumes of permit applications, and this model policy provides the tools to do just that.” 

The relatively high cost of rooftop solar permitting and inspection in the U.S. has long been cited as a key factor keeping residential solar costs in the U.S. higher than they are in other countries. In response, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory along with private and public partners developed SolarAPP+, an automated rooftop solar permitting software package that is free to local governments. The software has since been adopted by 183 communities where it has been used to process 41,000 solar permits, saving more than 33,000 hours of local government staff time. 

In addition to encouraging the adoption of automated rooftop solar permitting software, the model legislation includes provisions that prevent local governments from unreasonably restricting residential solar systems and residential energy storage systems, limit the solar permitting charge to the actual cost of processing the permit, and allow applicants to seek variances from the permitting ordinance. 

The model policy is the second such released by SI2 under their Center for Model Policy Development, following release of model policy around large-scale solar siting last fall. 

Read the model policy and accompanying memo here.

###

About the Solar and Storage Industries Institute:

The Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2) is accelerating the transition to carbon-free electricity through clean energy research and analysis. SI2 aims to use policy research, public education initiatives, and direct outreach to policymakers to explain the benefits of clean energy and develop pathways to widespread solar and storage use. SI2 is the charitable and education arm of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. For more information, visit www.ssii.org and follow SI2 on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.