- A new law in California requires local authorities having jurisdiction over residential rooftop solar installations — such as cities, counties, and homeowners associations — to streamline permitting and inspection procedures.
- AB 2188 mandates that by September 30, 2015, AHJs must have a rule in place to simplify and speed permitting for residential systems smaller than 10 kilowatts. This includes provisions to prevent installation process delays and a published and online checklist of requirements that, if met, qualifies the applicant for a review within 24 business hours and an inspection scheduling within 2 days.
Vermont’s 2012 law led the way in the U.S. on streamlined permitting and inspections for solar installations. Similar simplified procedures in Germany and Japan keep installation costs in those countries far lower than costs in the U.S. Studies have shown that the previous procedures in California can cost solar customers between $1,000 to $2,500 and delay the process as much as a month.
The push to reduce the “soft costs” of solar such as permitting and interconnection came in the wake of the sharp drop in “hard costs” for panels and other hardware. The Department of Energy SunShot program’s federal investments in research and development aim to drive the installed cost of solar down to $1.00 per watt.
AB 2188 could drive down the cost of an average residential rooftop installation by as much as $0.15-$0.20 per watt. That is not expected to occur until AHJs are able to implement AB 2188 provisions.
Opposition to AB 2188 came from groups concerned that the faster process would compromise safety and shift costs for solar to taxpayers.