By the end of 2022, the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) online permitting software had eliminated 134,000 days of delays for solar adopters, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) annual performance report. Thirty-one communities have either launched or are piloting SolarAPP+, growing from 13 communities at the end of 2021, with nearly 90 communities testing or preparing to pilot the tool. SolarAPP+ is designed to make it easier and less time consuming for jurisdictions across the United States to issue permits for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar-plus-storage systems. Reaching the Biden-Harris Administration’s target of a 100% carbon-free electricity grid by 2035 will require three to four times the current rate of solar deployment, which makes efficient permitting critical to achieving these goals.
Delays in the solar permitting process for rooftop solar can take weeks for approvals in some part of the country. In others, it’s months. Delayed installations mean that it takes longer for homeowners to benefit from lower utility bills. The report shows that jurisdictions that have adopted SolarAPP+ have shortened project timelines by about 13 business days compared to projects permitted in the traditional way. These projects were about 29% less likely to fail inspections than projects that were permitted the traditional way.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), NREL developed SolarAPP+ in collaboration with the industry and building safety communities. About 11,000 permits were processed through the software in 2022—a 300% increase over the year before—saving nearly 10,000 hours of staff time for local jurisdictions. Last year, communities in Connecticut, Texas, and Virginia piloted the tool, growing outside of California and Arizona for the first time.
A webinar on May 16 will share more results from the performance review. Additionally, building officials from four communities—Denver, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Gilford, Connecticut—will discuss how automated solar permitting reduced permitting timelines, freed up staff time, and helped advance their community’s goals. A second webinar on June 6 will provide a live demonstration of how the SolarAPP+ platform can permit residential solar and energy storage systems.
SolarAPP+ is available for free to jurisdictions and is supported by administrative fees paid by installers. Learn more about how it works and register your jurisdiction to use SolarAPP+ today.