Sierra Club wins legislation limiting solar permit fees

California Gov. Jerry Brown is a big fan of rooftop solar, known in the industry as “distributed generation.”

This week, he signed a SB 1222 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which caps the excessive permit fees that local governments charge for residential and commercial solar systems.

For years, the Sierra Club has been shining a light on the wide disparities in the fees that California cities charge for solar installations on homes as well as buildings like schools, churches and retail stores. A 2010 survey found that Brisbane charged $13,510 for a 131-kilowatt commercial system, while Los Gatos charged $796 and Los Altos Hills just $48 for a solar system of the same size.

A survey of residential fees found that the city of Bell – yes, that Bell – charged a whopping $1,166 for a 3 kw system; the city of Woodside charged just $30.

“Installation cost remains one barrier to wider solar energy systems use,” said Jim Metropulos, senior advocate with Sierra Club California. “SB 1222 standardizes permitting fees statewide and removes unreasonable costs for Californians that want to invest in rooftop solar energy systems.”

Dana Hull Dana Hull (229 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.