More rooftop solar, less red tape – Environment America

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As America accelerates its transition away from fossil fuels, rooftop solar emerges as a key solution. Producing energy locally reduces grid strain and the need for expensive transmission lines while preserving open spaces. Yet, despite its promise, only a fraction of rooftop solar potential has been realized in the United States.

Streamlining the installation process is crucial. Traditional permitting can be slow, complex, and costly. Enter SolarAPP+: a free, automated permitting platform designed to expedite approvals for rooftop solar and battery storage systems.

Developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in collaboration with building and safety experts, the solar industry and jurisdictions with authority to grant permits, SolarAPP+ streamlines the permitting process by asking solar installers detailed questions regarding the electrical, structural, and fire safety of the proposed solar system and then calculating whether the project is in compliance with local codes. The system is responsive, and any answers that fall outside of compliance will not allow the installer to proceed with the permit. The system can also catch minor errors, typos, or miscalculations to ensure only code-complaint systems get approved. 

The benefits are clear. Projects approved through SolarAPP+ are installed and inspected faster, with a lower likelihood of inspection failure compared to traditional methods. This efficiency translates to significant time savings and improved quality, making solar installation more accessible and affordable for consumers.

States are taking notice. California has mandated the adoption of SolarAPP+ for residential solar installations, with other states like Maryland, New York, and Hawaii considering similar measures. In Massachusetts, proposed legislation aims to expedite permitting through electronic submission and shorter review timelines.

Federal grants and state incentives further incentivize adoption. The Department of Energy provides funding to support SolarAPP+ adoption, while states like Colorado offer grants to local governments to implement automated permitting technologies.

Local leadership is driving change as well, with over 160 communities utilizing SolarAPP+ to approve thousands of projects efficiently.

Nobody wants their project slowed down – not the customer and not the crew. In Denver, any minor change to the project used to require re-submitting the permit and restarting the whole review process. With SolarAPP+, we are able to make some changes and get a new permit within 30 minutes.

Mike Wagner

Permit Coordinator, Photon Brothers






To support the transition to cleaner energy you can urge your state to streamline rooftop solar permitting by take action today. Together, we can unlock the full potential of rooftop solar and build a more sustainable future for generations to come.

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Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America’s energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

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