The City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections announced significant changes today that will streamline the process of installing solar in Philadelphia. The changes make Philadelphia a more solar-friendly city by allowing solar projects to use a new EZ Permit for qualifying installations up to 10 kilowatts in capacity. This update, combined with the rollout of online permitting earlier this year, will make it faster, easier and more affordable to install solar. In response to the updates, Solarize Philly is offering an additional “EZ Permit Discount” of $250 to participants who sign a contract before the group buying program closes on November 30.
“Solar companies, we heard your call for a streamlined permitting process and responded. Philadelphia wants you to do business here in our city,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “We need to substantially grow the use of solar in Philadelphia as part of our strategy to combat climate change, and we need your help to get us there.”
“The Philadelphia Energy Campaign, through Solarize Philly, has shown that solar benefits Philadelphia households and workers by reducing electric bills and creating living wage jobs,” said Council President Darrell Clarke (5th District). “We took this new step to make it as simple and affordable as possible to install solar in Philadelphia, because we know that the economic and climate impacts of solar projects are more important now than ever before.”
The Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) established an EZ Permit for solar, meaning that plans are not required as part of the submission. Qualifying online solar permit applications will be reviewed within three business days; applications submitted in-person will be reviewed on the same day. L&I is holding a webinar today, Tuesday, October 13 at 1 p.m. to inform contractors of the new streamlined process.
“The EZ Permit for solar is one of many significant changes that L&I has made this year to improve the permitting process,” said David J. Perri, Commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections. “By adding an online permitting platform, we eliminated the need for companies to come in-person to submit applications. We are confident that the new online option combined with the EZ Permit for Solar will improve the permitting experience for solar contractors.”
This announcement follows the City’s 2019 measure to establish a $200 cap for building permits for solar, a fee which was previously priced at up to tens of thousands of dollars. The building permit fee reduction and Solar EZ Permit represent improvements to the established solar permitting process, which was developed by L&I in partnership with the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability in 2016 and included an expedited review for solar permits and the exclusion of certain equipment costs in the electrical permit fee calculation. Philadelphia earned the designation as a Solsmart Gold City in 2017 for its efforts to streamline solar permitting and has since been highlighted as a national leader in reducing solar soft costs.
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“Solar permitting has remained a challenge over recent years, which has deterred some companies from operating inside the city limits,” said Ron Celentano, President of the Pennsylvania Solar & Storage Industries Association. “The move by the City to introduce a Solar EZ Permit signals that Philadelphia is serious about being open for solar business.”
The Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) today announced a $250 “EZ Permit Discount,” which will be offered to qualifying Solarize Philly participants who sign a contract before the group buying program closes on November 30. To access the Solarize Philly group-buying discounts and the new EZ Permit discount, property owners can sign up at solarizephilly.org. Participants will be referred to Solar States, the pre-approved Solarize Philly installer, for a free solar assessment. Income-qualified households that sign up will be invited to participate in the Solar Savings Grant Program, a pilot program that pairs grants and financing to include low- and moderate-income households in Solarize Philly. The Solar Savings Grant Program still has a few spots remaining for qualified applicants so property owners are strongly encouraged to apply quickly.