Making solar more affordable for everyone.
Hardware costs have decreased 50% in the last couple of years opening up California’s market to more consumers, but stubborn soft costs keep solar costs unnecessarily high. Some of the biggest and avoidable soft costs include inefficient local permitting, utility interconnection barriers, and illegal Homeowner Association impediments.
Is Your Community Complying With California's Solar Rights Act?
California law protects consumers' rights to go solar and requires local governments to cut red tape through streamlined permitting. How is your community doing? Having problems? We have resources to help you.
CALSEIA passed AB 2188 (Muratsuchi) in 2014 to streamline permitting. It requires local governments to create an expedited permitting process by September 31, 2015 that includes electronic submittal of applications and only one inspection. It requires all jurisdictions to align their streamlined permitting processes with the California Solar Permitting Guidebook published by the Office of Governor Brown. To help jurisdictions implement AB2188, CALSEIA is working with our partners across the state, including the Center for Sustainable Energy and the Solar Energy Action Committee (SEAC). SEAC is a strategic initiative led by the County of Los Angeles whose goal is to provide a better understanding of solar energy requirements and improved practices and procedures to effectively and optimally support the growth of solar.
The Office of Planning and Research published a 2015 California Solar Permitting Guidebook, including checklists and standard plans as well as recommendations for streamlined permitting that include timelines for review and inspections. These documents and recommendations are mandeted by AB 2188. CALSEIA sat on the steering committee for the Guidebook.
Use of your solar system is contingent on the local utility allowing interconnection to the electrical grid. For homeowners, progress has been made by the utilities to streamline this process and reduce the wait time for interconnection. When associated work like a service panel upgrade is required, however, delays can still be unreasonable. For larger projects, interconnection delays have worsened recently as utilities have become increasingly strict about their interpretations of the rules. Disputes with the utility can lead to year-long delays and the addition of hundred of thousands of dollars in disputed costs. CALSEIA is working to stop utilities from requiring unnecessary equipment, overcharging customers, and taking months to complete work that should be done quickly.
Streamlining HIS Licensing
In order to sell a home solar energy system, sales agents need to qualify for a Home Improvement Salesperson (HIS) license from the California State Licensing Board (CLSB). Unfortunately, the process for obtaining this important license, intended to protect consumers, is bogged down in red tape. It can take at least 5-6 weeks to obtain a license, which one can only apply for after being hired by a solar contactor.
In 2015, CALSEIA worked with the CSLB to identify where the system was getting bogged down and pas legislation to solve it. That legislation, SB 561 (Monning) passed and was signed into law this year. Starting in January, the timeline for obtaining a HIS license should be shorter and the steps in the process simpler. For example, starting January 1, a HIS license request should be acceptable on-line, as opposed to relying on a mail-in process. In addition, a sales person will be able to apply for a license as an individual, essentially decoupling the license from the contractor – similar to how real estate agents are licensed with the state.