Press Release

Department of Building Inspection News Release

San Francisco Launches Pilot Program for Rooftop Solar Electrical Permits
January 12, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Contact: DBI Communications, dbi.commuications@sfgov.org

San Francisco Launches Pilot Program for Rooftop Solar Electrical Permits

During the Pilot, Licensed Contractors Can Bypass Plan Review and Get an Instant, Online Electrical Permit for Rooftop Solar Arrays

San Francisco, CA – The Department of Building Inspection today announced the pilot launch of 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 10kWdc or less on single or two-family homes.

The new process being piloted 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. It was developed in support of the City’s Climate Action Plan 2021 and the goal to transition to 100% renewable electricity citywide by 2025 and 100% renewable energy by 2040.

The pilot program is open to the first 35 applicants to qualify and select the SolarAPP+ web application. The City will evaluate the efficacy of SolarAPP+ at the conclusion of the pilot program.

“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.”

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

Additional information on solar permitting in San Francisco is available at: https://sf.gov/step-by-step/get-permit-solar-panel-or-photovoltaic-syst….

SolarAPP+ was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as a free tool to help local governments streamline and automate solar installation permitting.

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