The Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABCs) identified local codes as a current high priority issue facing photovoltaic (PV). Expedited permitting and solar access laws are areas that were identified and are being acted on by the Solar ABCs through planned collaborative study efforts, research panels, and white papers. The goal is for all of the planned efforts to position the PV industry with codes and standards that foster accelerated market adoption.
Expedited permitting for PV systems is critical to meet the needs of the growing, small-scale PV market in the United States and is aimed for applied use nationwide. The concept of expedited permitting takes advantage of the many common characteristics inherent in most of the small-scale PV systems installed today to streamline both the application and award of permits. The expedited permit process is intended to simplify the structural and electrical review of a small PV system project and minimize the need for detailed engineering studies and unnecessary delays. The Solar ABCs is currently collaborating with key PV industry stakeholders to address this issue and develop recommendations for expediting the PV system permit process to accelerate the PV system market.
State and local statutes on solar access and solar rights can encourage or discourage consumer investment in PV systems. Because PV systems require direct access to sunlight to operate effectively and efficiently, the installation of a PV system on a new or existing building often requires exterior modifications that are subject to building codes and private regulation.
The Solar ABCs is currently reviewing the efficacy of existing laws and regulations to protect solar access for new and existing buildings and also reviewing various approaches to improve and ensure solar access for those planning to use PV systems on homes and commercial buildings.