Solar Permitting Fees Update

You may have read – or experienced yourself – that the fees charged by cities and counties for solar installation permits vary tremendously across the state – even in cities right next to each other. Some of those fees are exorbitant compared to the average. Kurt Newick, a NorCal Solar member and an activist, couldn’t take it anymore.

Several years ago, Kurt worked with his local chapter of the Sierra Club (Loma Prieta chapter) to begin contacting jurisdictions across California county by county to find out their permitting fees, to be able to compare them and understand the depth of the problem. We published some of his results in the 8th edition of this Resource Guide, and Kurt and his team keep updated information on their website.

Kurt reports that he’s been traveling to Sacramento to help advise on legislation to address the permit fee problem. Scroll down on www.solarpermitfees.org to track the latest on legislation, but as of this writing, three bills are pending:

  • SB 1222 (Leno): Specifies limits on PV permit fees and prohibits cities and counties from charging more than a reasonable amount.
  • AB 1801 (Campos): “Requires solar permit fees to be computed based on actual jurisdictional costs and specifically prohibits fees from being computed based on PV system valuations. This will impact solar permit fees for all sizes and types of solar energy systems.”
  • AB 2135 (Blumenfield): “Creates guidelines and standards for solar permit processing.”

(Citations are from www.solarpermitfees.org from Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club.)

Kurt and his team have worked hard to bring reason and consistency to this problem. Many jurisdictions have adjusted their fees and streamlined the permitting process.

Kurt can be reached at by phone (408-370-9636) or email. The Sierra Club’s studies of permit fees are on their website.