• New Law Requires Cities and Counties to Expedite Their Permitting Processes for Small Residential Rooftop Solar Systems
  • September 23, 2014 | Authors: Sophie A. Akins; Kelsey R. Blegen
  • Law Firms: Best Best & Krieger LLP - San Diego Office ; Best Best & Krieger LLP - Sacramento Office
  • A new law imposes requirements on cities and counties regarding permitting for small residential rooftop solar energy systems. Under AB 2188, signed Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown, cities and counties must adopt ordinances, or amend their current ordinances, to create expedited, streamlined permitting processes for small rooftop solar energy systems by Sept. 30, 2015.

    To comply with the new law, cities and counties must adopt permitting procedures that conform to the expedited permitting recommendations in the current version of the “California Solar Permitting Guidebook.” In addition, cities and counties must adopt a requirements checklist that small rooftop solar energy systems must comply with to be eligible for expedited review. Cities and counties must publish their checklists and other required permitting documentation on their websites.

    According to the new law, an application that meets the checklist’s information requirements is deemed complete; and if an application is incomplete, the city or county must issue a written correction notice. AB 2188 also requires that cities and counties accept electronic submissions of applications and electronic signatures. After an application is complete, and if it is consistent with the city’s or county’s solar permitting ordinance, the city or county may approve the application. However, cities and counties cannot condition their approval on the approval of an association that manages a common interest development. Only one inspection, which is done in a timely manner, is required for a small rooftop solar energy system that is eligible for expedited review.

    The requirements outlined in AB 2188 apply only to residential rooftop solar energy systems that are no larger than 10 kilowatts or 30 kilowatts thermal. The systems must be installed on a single or duplex family dwelling, comply with local codes and the California Electrical Code, and not exceed the maximum legal building height. In addition, solar energy systems for heating water in single family residences and solar collectors that heat water in commercial or swimming pool applications must be certified by an accredited listing agency.