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All Systems Go: Solar Permits & Inspections

Solar permitting and inspections have gained attention over recent months due to the current pandemic and the need for local governments to offer their citizens remote services. Depending on your location, solar permitting standards vary widely.  

Over the past two years, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has been working on streamlining the solar permitting process to help municipalities and solar customers alike. The impacts of COVID-19 have made it clear that there is no better time for this new solution. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RIM), a globally recognized clean energy nonprofit organization, is promoting the use of an online platform called SolarAPP. According to RIM, “SolarAPP aims to standardize the instant permitting process across the United States.” The use of SolarAPP will automate the permit approval process and accelerate the adoption of rooftop solar nationwide.  

But until SolarApp is adopted everywhere, the industry will continue to navigate through inconsistent permitting and engineering requirements with the help of knowledgeable installers like Elevation. We thought it’d be helpful to breakdown the final steps toward “flipping the switch” on your new solar system today. 

Install Timeframes 

For Elevation, most systems only take one day to install. However, it is important to understand that the timeframe between your initial proposal, the date of installation, and ultimately your system’s activation depends on specific city and utility approval processes. For instance, some cities provide instant / over-the-counter approvals, while others require a lengthy manual review of your design that could take weeks to complete. With many building departments overburdened, you’ll want to have a knowledgeable installer who will stay on top of the project. Make sure to find one ready to navigate this process for you and keep you informed along the way.  

Permits and Inspections 

Permitting and inspection standards vary according to your location and utility company. Because rooftop solar includes in-depth construction and electrical work, these inspections help confirm that the project is done correctly to keep you and your family safe. Local building codes can change from year to year, so it is essential to choose an installer familiar with the requirements for your specific area. Here are some things you can expect as part of your solar installation approval process:  

General permits to begin a residential solar project: 
  • Permit from local government to install 
  • Electrical permit 
  • Structural or building permits 
  • HOA approval, if applicable 
  • Utility interconnection application 
General inspections before you can activate your system: 
  • Pre-solar inspection for electrical 
  • Roof structure inspection to confirm structural support 
  • City building and electrical inspection post-installation 
  • Utility approval after passing city inspection 
  • Solar interconnection (connecting to the grid) and permission to operate (PTO) 

Failure to meet all conditions or skipping mandatory inspections can result in costly repairs or penalties. Your installer will manage your system’s unique design and approval process to ensure compliance with all building and electrical requirements. With so many steps that vary according to your local jurisdiction and utility company, choose an installer you can trust.  

Costs and Fees 

Unsurprisingly, since permit and inspection standards vary greatly, so do the costs. Each can range from a minimal fee to several hundred dollars. Depending on your installer, you may never see these fees as they are usually included in your overall system price. Elevation’s solutions are turnkey and include anything you would need to get the job done. Our experts can guide you through your plan to help you be confident that there will be no additional hidden fees.  

All Systems Go! 

Solar installations can be a complicated, multi-step endeavor. But it’s worth it, especially when partnered with a company that can simplify the process and keep things organized while doing the heavy lifting for you. Elevation maintains a streamlined permitting process to minimize typical delays in getting a system installed and activated. Let one of our Elevation Home Energy Solution experts help you along our 5 Step process to a new Elevated Home. 

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