Tue, 03 Aug 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: To encourage the use of rooftop solar panels, the Biden administration has introduced a website to allow homeowners to receive same-day permits for the installation.

The typical period for approval has been two weeks.

The U.S. Energy Department claims this will reduce costs for homeowners.

The Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP+) platform, developed by the Department of Energy, will be an optional portal for local governments to automatically process permit applications.

Currently, permit-related costs can account for about one-third of installers' overall costs, officials said. The new site will speed up the process up by standardizing requirements, streamlining the application and automating some approvals.

"Having streamlined processes and an automated permitting platform that can make it faster, easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar promises to really help expand the residential solar sector," Becca Jones-Albertus of the Department of Energy said in an interview.

SolarAPP+ was tested in communities in Arizona and California, starting in 2020. In Tucson, officials said use of the portal reduced permitting review times from an average of 20 days to the same-day.

An official from Stockton, California, a city that recently began using the SolarAPP tool, said the city has seen a 26 percent increase in solar applications over the last five years.

"It's rare that you can find something that works this well for all of the parties involved," John Alita, Stockton's deputy city manager, said during a webinar.

The portal conducts an automatic review of permit applications, approving eligible systems instantly.

The Department of Energy will not charge local governments for use of the portal. The federal government is encouraging 125 mayors and local officials to sign up to use the SolarAPP tool before the end of the summer.

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