Solar Permit California

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    Getting your local permitting in order for solar installations can be one of the most difficult and tedious parts of the whole process. That’s why we at Avila Solar have created several different solar permit packages, so you can choose the right option for your project and benefit from our experts’ experience and knowledge.

    In this article, we’ll lay out the solar permitting process to help you better understand how to obtain a solar permit in California.

    California Solar Permit Process

    Let’s begin with the basic steps involved in the solar permitting process:

    1. Submit your application for screening.
    2. Your application is reviewed.
    3. You submit your plan to be checked (if necessary).
    4. Any necessary corrections to the plan are issued.
    5. Your plan check is completed.
    6. Your permit is issued.

    Utility Interconnection Requirements

    If you are installing a grid-tied system, the California utility company that manages your local grid will need to know that you are installing a solar energy system and they will most likely want to inspect it for themselves. They will also certify that the equipment you are using is properly certified so it won’t cause any safety hazards or power draw issues.

    The public utilities will also need to ensure that the power infrastructure can handle the added power that will be generated by your solar energy system since areas can become too saturated if a lot of people install solar energy systems in a small area and the grid isn’t built to handle that much excess energy.

    Applications for utility interconnection can be anywhere from 3-10 pages and will ask for information like the location of your existing utility meter and electrical panel, where you plan to install the solar panel array, how many solar panels and inverters will be in your system, what model of panels and inverters you plan to use, and the capacity rating for everything in your system.

    Local Building Department Requirements

    Additionally, you will need to coordinate with your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Your AHJ might be a City and County Building Department depending on your exact location. These requirements vary, but the most common one is that you may need to have an engineer certify that your roof is suitable for a solar energy system and that it can bear the additional weight of a panel array. 

    Read More: California Solar Permitting Guidebook

    CA Solar Permit Required Checklist

    In general, your building permit checklist will look something like this:

    • Prepare your building and electrical permit applications.
    • Prepare construction documents that are drawn to scale.
      • These should include a site plan that has the lot and building dimensions, the array-to-total roof ratio, and the location and dimensions of the array and all fire access pathways.
      • Also include all of the manufacturers’ supporting documentation for all the components of your solar energy system.
      • These construction documents also need to demonstrate that the planned rack or mounting system will be able to withstand snow, seismic, and other forces as outlined by the structural building codes for your area.

    California Expedited Solar Permits

    If your PV installation is small-scale and residential, it is most likely eligible for an expedited permit process. This is designed to simplify the structural and electrical review, which reduces the need for detailed engineering inspections and minimizes delays in the process, since most PV systems less than 15kW are generally quite similar.

    You can expedite your solar permits both on the approving end as well as on your end, with an expedited permit application package from Avila Solar. For an additional fee, we can have your permit application documents ready to go in just two business days.

    Problems With the Existing Process of Solar Permitting

    The main barrier for people considering adding a PV system to their home is the permit process, because the requirements and steps are so different state to state, and even between neighboring cities. The processes are often complex and inconsistent, which can confuse people enough that they scrap the entire idea.

    Your AHJ, the local utility company, and even your homeowners’ association can have different sets of requirements and restrictions that make it nearly impossible to navigate the process. On top of that, there are often unpredictable fees and long wait times for permit approvals.

    Luckily, that’s where we at Avila Solar come in. We will handle your solar permitting process from start to finish and assist you with preparing documents, finding and dealing with your local AHJ, and expediting the process as much as possible.

    Reduce 'Soft Costs' by Partnering With Avila

    Soft costs’ are the process-related costs of a solar energy system installation, whereas ‘hard costs’ are the expenses of the equipment itself, such as purchasing the solar panels and inverters and so forth.

    The soft costs generally include items like permitting and inspection fees, grid interconnection costs, installation expenses, and financing. These types of expenses can add up quickly, especially when you attempt to do everything on your own. Fortunately, when you bundle these services with a package from Avila Solar, we can save you money by applying our expertise to find the most cost-effective solutions for your permitting needs.

    Our Permit Packages

    Our experts at Avila Solar know that not every solar permit project is the same, so we’ve created several different affordable package options to fit your specific needs. In order to get started with your residential solar project, simply submit a project request and pay a small deposit, and we will contact you soon after to begin the permit process.

    This package is our most basic, and it just includes permit and PV system drafting services for the installation of solar panels alone, with no other components. We will work with you to get your permits approved as quickly as possible and take care of any necessary revisions. The included solar plan set will meet all state, local, and utility requirements for your area and will include the following elements:

    • Cover sheet
    • Site Plan
    • Roof Framing Plan
    • Electrical Plan
    • Single Line Diagram
    • Labels and Datasheets

    At Avila Solar, we have several different permitting packages available for your residential and commercial solar system installation, all at affordable rates.  To browse through our services, please visit our service page. Once you’re ready to begin, simply order the service to start. From there, all project management will be from within your customer portal.

    California Solar Permit FAQs

    Let’s take a look at some California-specific questions.

    In order to submit a standard solar permit online in Los Angeles, your contractor will need to do it for you, and certain project criteria need to be met, such as: 

    • No plan check is required for your project.
    • It must be a rooftop system on a single-family or two-family home.
    • The total capacity of the system must be 10 kW or less.
    • No GFCI or AFCI overcurrent devices can be installed in the AC output of the inverter.
    • All AC power systems must be 120/240 volts single phase
    • The service panel rating must be 225 amperes or less.

    If a plan review is required for your PV installation, you can submit your building plans for online review using ePlanLA.

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