We all know that the volume of solar installation permit applications is causing painful bottlenecks for authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), installers, and residents alike.
While online solar permitting has been the dream for many, very few have been able to make it a reality because it has required a lot of resources to build and maintain.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently announced a $20 million grant funding opportunity through the California Automated Permit Processing Program (CalAPP). The purpose of CalAPP is to help all AHJs in incorporated cities and counties in California “implement an online, automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and issues permits in real time for a solar energy system.”
These grants are between $19,000-$100,000, depending on the latest estimated population size, and will help ease financial concerns and “recover the cost of establishing an eligible automated, online solar permitting platform.”
Many will likely use their grants to adopt SolarAPP+ — a free, web-based portal, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that automates project plan review and produces code-compliant approvals to help building departments to quickly issue permits for residential solar energy system installations. The grants can apply to a wide range of online permitting related costs like subscriptions, staff time associated with implementation, training, essential hardware, or developing their own portal.
What’s more, the application form is surprisingly easy — we checked it out ourselves. The CalAPP Program launched June 1, 2022 and is now accepting grant funding applications on a first-come, first-served basis (while funding remains available). The submission deadline is May 1, 2023, and, again, every AHJ in California is eligible. Find out more details about the program and application manual here.
This is, of course, potentially a huge boon to solar installers. So, what can you do to make sure your AHJs take advantage?
The best thing to do right now is to contact your AHJs and encourage them to adopt SolarAPP+ and apply for CalAPP. If you’re not sure who your AHJ is, here’s a searchable AHJ registry.
Here are some additional resources:
- CalAPP “How-to-Apply” — A quick Zoom replay with a how-to guide for prospective grant applicants
- SolarAPP+ Introduction and Technical Demonstration — A YouTube overview of SolarAPP+
- The actual CalAPP application
In the announcement, CEC says, “achieving 100% clean electricity in California requires an acceleration of the development of rooftop solar projects. CalAPP funding is intended to encourage cities and counties to further enhance permitting processes and accelerate processing and turnaround time, particularly regarding plan review.”
We couldn’t agree more.