DOE Secretary asks all U.S. mayors to speed rooftop solar permitting process

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm wrote a open letter to all U.S. mayors asking them to use SolarAPP+, a transformative online solar permitting tool that helps accelerate rooftop solar deployment.

This effort comes as Secretary of State Granholm concludes the Summer of Solar, her effort to educate Americans about the benefits of solar energy. Secretary Granholm set a goal to get 125 communities to sign up for more information about SolarAPP+ by September 30.

“Up until now, obtaining permits to install solar in some parts of the country can take days, weeks or even months and can be a complex and costly process,” wrote Minister Granholm. “At a time when we use technology to create life-saving vaccines, connect virtually with colleagues and family and explore space, it seems unlikely that we are still pushing paper to process solar permit applications.”

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and several leading solar companies and organizations, the software platform automates the solar permitting process for local construction departments. SolarAPP+ immediately analyzes whether a residential solar system is installed safely and complies with local building codes, drastically reducing the time it takes to get solar projects online.

“SolarAPP+ can reduce the solar permitting process from 8 weeks to just a few hours, making it a breakthrough for both large city governments and small towns,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO. “This free online tool makes it much easier and simpler to approve residential solar projects, saving local authorities time and money. We must do everything we can to quickly deploy solar energy and achieve our climate goals, and a tool like SolarAPP+ can help jump-start our clean energy transformation.”

There are over 15,000 local jurisdictions that approve solar permits, and each has its own approach or system for approving these projects. SolarAPP+ helps standardize the process while ensuring security and can be universally applied by state and local governments of all sizes. Being an online tool, SolarAPP+ helps municipalities reduce the staff hours and resources required to manually process applications, while improving accuracy and reducing administrative errors, allowing staff to focus on more complex projects.

“We were the first to adopt SolarAPP+ and the first to license its use,” said Pleasant Hill Mayor Sue Noack. “We have just issued our 30th permit through SolarAPP+ and with all the building we have done there have been no issues at all.”

SolarAPP+ is free to use by state and local governments and delivers a faster and more reliable experience for solar customers, solar installers and construction professionals. SolarAPP+ is currently available for residential solar installations and later extensions to the program will include battery storage, as well as solar and solar energy + storage for commercial buildings.

News item from SEIA

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