San Francisco pilots SolarAPP+ to speed residential solar permitting

solar permit approval

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection is now piloting SolarAPP+, a web-based application enabling California licensed contractors to bypass upfront plan review and obtain an instant, online electrical permit for qualifying rooftop solar installations of 10 kWdc or less on single or two-family homes.

“The best way to increase sustainable development is to remove the obstacles driving up costs and slowing down construction,” said Supervisor Mandelman, a leader in the City’s efforts to transition to sustainable energy and development. “By bypassing plan review and shaving two weeks off the electrical permit process, San Francisco is making it faster, easier and less expensive for homeowners to install residential rooftop solar.”

SolarAPP+ has shown significant results in counties around the country since its launch. In San Francisco, SolarAPP+ is expected to reduce the issuance time for these electrical permits from two weeks to one day, and save contractors from having to go to the City’s Permit Center for in-person plan review meetings.

The pilot program is open to the first 30 applicants to qualify and select the SolarAPP+ web application. The City will evaluate the efficacy of SolarAPP+ at the conclusion of the pilot program.

“Today, we turned on the SolarAPP+ pilot program to make it easier for San Franciscans to install rooftop solar power on their homes,” said Patrick O’Riordan, Director of the Department of Building Inspection. “We believe this new tool will really shine in the City and help illuminate how easy it is for residents to transition to sustainable power.”

The new web-based application is only for rooftop photovoltaic solar arrays. Due to safety concerns, permits for energy storage using onsite batteries continue to require submission and Fire Department review of written plans detailing fire protection and other safety features.

Solar projects utilizing the mobile application must also meet other requirements, including:

  • Generating 10 kWdc or less
  • No existing onsite photovoltaic solar array
  • Installation limited to one solar module type
  • Single phase 240 V services
  • Max of two dc strings in parallel

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