The California Senate's Governance and Finance Committee has approved a bill (AB.2188) establishing a streamlined permitting and inspection procedure for solar energy systems.
The bipartisan vote of 6-1 moves the bill on to the full Senate, which is expected to take it up after it returns from summer recess in August. Last month, AB.2188 passed the State Assembly by a vote of 45-5.
AB.2188 requires every city and county to adopt an ordinance – in consultation with fire and utility officials – ‘to streamline and expedite the permitting process for small, residential, rooftop solar energy systems’ by Sept. 30, 2015. The bill is supported by a coalition of business associations, solar companies, environmental groups and local elected officials.
‘Your typical home solar energy system is quite cookie-cutter,’ says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. ‘From Chico to Chula Vista, the exact same product, design and installation is being installed, yet many building departments require byzantine permits as if they are installing a nuclear power plant.’
Del Chiaro says she expects the bill to pass the Senate and move back to the Assembly for concurrence and hopes to see it pass before the legislative session ends on Aug. 31.
Local groups in California, notably the East Bay Green Corridor, have tackled the streamlining of solar permitting on a regional basis. Such efforts are seen as key to reducing so-called"soft costs," in solar energy projects.