San Francisco launches pilot project for rooftop solar electrical permits

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California Construction News staff writer

San Francisco’s department of building inspection has announced a pilot project will test SolarAPP+, a web-based application enabling California licensed contractors to bypass upfront plan review and obtain an instant, online electrical permit for qualifying rooftop solar installations of 10kWdc or less on single or two-family homes.

The new process is expected to reduce issuance time for electrical permits from two weeks to one day, and save contractors from having to go to the permit center for in-person plan review meetings. It was developed in support of the Climate Action Plan 2021 and the goal to transition renewable electricity citywide by 2025 and 100% renewable energy by 2040.

The pilot program is open to the first 30 applicants to qualify and select the SolarAPP+ web application.

“The best way to increase sustainable development is to remove the obstacles driving up costs and slowing down construction,” said Supervisor Mandelman. “By bypassing plan review and shaving two weeks off the electrical permit process, San Francisco is making it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to install residential rooftop solar.”

Projects must also:

  • Generating 10kWdc or less
  • No existing onsite photovoltaic solar array
  • Installation limited to one solar module type
  • Single phase 240V services
  • Maximum of two DC strings in parallel

The new web-based application is only for rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays. Due to safety concerns, permits for energy storage using onsite batteries continue to require submission and Fire Department review of written plans detailing fire protection and other safety features.

Additional information on solar permitting in San Francisco is available at: https://sf.gov/step-by-step/get-permit-solar-panel-or-photovoltaic-system.

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