Since then, several enactments and regulations have passed in the CA legislature to aid and support solar permit issuance and installations. Governor Brown even set a “goal of developing 12,000 megawatts of small-scale, localized renewable electrical power (often called “Distributed Generation”) in California by 2020.”
[Source: Solar Permitting Guidebook, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, June 2012, First Edition;http://opr.ca.gov/docs/California_Solar_Permitting_Guidebook.pdf]
According to the state’s California Solar Statistics webpage, the annual number of solar permit applications remained steady with over 32,000 permits in 2012 and over 31,000 in 2013 then decreased dramatically in 2014 with only 7,069 applied permits.
[Source: State of California, California Energy Commission & California Public Utilities Commission, http://www.californiasolarstatistics.ca.gov/, accessed 2-19-2015]
CIRB construction data substantiated this finding in the Energy Permit Summary Report with an annual total of 6,952 issued solar permits this past year.
With the sun always shining in the Golden State, solar energy would appear to be the unparalleled frontrunner of renewable resources in California – so why has photovoltaic permit activity dropped off in the past year?
The culprit might be the difficulties arising from variations in permitting processes and standards set by local municipalities.
According to the Governor’s OPR, “These differences have created a confusing patchwork of requirements, which has made installing solar PV more expensive and slowed the expansion of this technology in California.” [Solar Permitting Guidebook, Preface]
California is comprised of 58 reporting counties and 536 incorporated cities within, so making sure all the jurisdictions are equalizing their permit applications will take quite a bit of time. However, once the local governments can create a more consistent, straightforward approach to the permit process, an increase in the number of solar installations should follow.
For more information on California solar permit statistics, please contact the CIRB research team at 916-340-3340 orCHF-CIRB@mychf.org.