A new report from SunRun recently revealed that permitting can significantly increase the cost of residential solar PV projects, adding as much as 20 percent to total project costs. One large solar installer in California has two full-time “runners” whose entire job is dedicated to taking solar permit applications to city offices that require an in-person submission.
The problem of permit costs looms ever larger as solar module and installation costs fall, making permitting an even larger portion of project costs. The adjacent chart illustrates the cost of permitting for residential solar PV, based on the size and cost per Watt of the project. SunRun found average permitting costs of $2,500 per project.
Fortunately, there are already best-practice standards for solar permitting from the Solar America Board of Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs), and the SunRun report finds that implementing these practices can reduce permitting costs by 75 percent, to around $600. The following table, taken from the report, details how the savings can be achieved. The cost savings can be achieved across nearly every category of the permitting process:
For comparison, the following chart illustrates the substantial difference in the portion of project costs related to permitting when best practices are implemented.