Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced the Solar Access Act SB 617.
SB 617 implements automated solar permits in local jurisdictions with over 10,000 residents. This enables remote inspections and approvals of residential solar and Solar + storage systems, greatly reducing approval times, lowering approval costs for local governments and homeowners, and helping California meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
SB 617 is jointly sponsored by SPUR, a San Francisco-based policy research organization, and Environment California. Congregation member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) is a lead co-author of the bill, and Senator Josh Becker (D-San Mateo) and Congregation member Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) are co-authors.
“This bill builds on California's great work to streamline solar approvals, which has made the state a leader in clean energy,” said Nick Josefowitz, SPUR chief political officer. “With this calculation, you can quickly and easily install solar collectors on your roof and battery storage in your garage. This is especially important for those Californians who regularly face public safety blackouts and want to continue to power their lights, internet, and critical medical equipment without resorting to dirty diesel generators. “
While the cost of solar technology has been falling in recent years, the high costs associated with installing it – including local permit and inspection requirements – have remained prohibitive for many. Delays due to long approval and inspection wait times are also affecting solar implementation across the state. Automated approval solves both of these problems. With the Solar Access Act, California can implement a timely and comprehensive solution.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a US Department of Energy project, has created a free program to help local governments approve solar and solar + storage systems for homes. SolarAPP + provides a web-based portal that streamlines and automates approval reviews and can be easily implemented into existing local government approval software. Under the Solar Access Act, cities and counties with more than 10,000 residents must provide an instant online approval process like SolarAPP +. It also authorizes the California Energy Commission to provide technical assistance and funding for implementation from misappropriated funds from the New Solar Home Partnership Program.
NREL first introduced SolarAPP + at the end of 2020 and has slowly expanded the possibilities of the program. Pleasant Hill is the first California city to adopt SolarAPP + and has already started processing permits. San Jose also uses online solar permits and has seen approvals increase by 600% since upgrading in 2016.
Photo: Wiener presents SB 35 on its first day of the meeting