|Rooftop Solar PV Installation in Fairfield, Connecticut, one of 12 towns working with the Sun Rise New England team on the Rooftop Solar Challenge. Image Courtesy of Direct Energy Solar.|
The goal of the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative is to achieve significant cost reductions for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that will enable solar electricity to be cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies in the United States by 2020. The SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge contributes to the SunShot goal by providing resources and building networks to standardize processes, improve standards, reduce soft costs and remove market barriers associated with permitting, planning and zoning and interconnection of rooftop solar PV to the grid, as well as addressing affordability by increasing access to financing.
The Connecticut team led a project that analyzed solar PV soft costs in the state under the SunShot Initiative’s Rooftop Solar Challenge I program. Since then Connecticut has partnered with four other New England states, under the leadership of the Clean Energy States Challenge II. This second round of funding gives Connecticut further opportunity to refine, pilot and implement tools and recommendations developed in the first round, in collaboration with other New England states.
The Connecticut team has compiled results and recommendations from the Rooftop Solar Challenge project into the resources below. Click on a category to discover recommendations and best practices in that area. The Round I Final Project Report and the full Connecticut Rooftop Solar PV Permitting Guide Version 2.0 are provided for download under “Project Deliverables.”
For more information and/or to join us in our efforts to make rooftop solar PV installation easier, faster and cheaper, contact us at CGBsunshot@ctgreenbank.com.
Solar PV Permitting Resources
Each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities has its own permitting processes, permit application and fee structure, making widespread solar deployment a challenge. By streamlining the procedures and documents required for a permit, municipalities can encourage more projects, including solar, and bring more business into their community. This section provides recommendations and resources for improving rooftop solar PV permitting developed from research conducted by the Connecticut Rooftop Solar Challenge team. These suggestions are consistent with the work of other teams and leading organizations throughout the nation working to help understand and improve solar PV permitting processes.
Significant improvements can be made by making information more accessible, streamlining permit application submission, implementing online permitting software and waiving or reducing permit fees. Help contractor’s get it right the first time by clarifying what information contractors should provide when they apply for a solar PV permit, reducing everyone’s guesswork and frustration.
Jurisdictions are encouraged to consider the permitting recommendations below to support efficient and safe rooftop solar PV installations in their communities.
- Solar PV Permitting Recommendations
- Online Permitting for CT Municipalities
- Determining a Fair Permit Fee for Solar
Solar PV Permit Application Package:
The Connecticut Green Bank SunShot team is creating custom solar PV permit packages for Connecticut municipalities (see the Town of Seymour as an example!). The package consists of a 1 page instructions sheet and all required forms to be completed for solar PV projects.
Contact CGBsunshot@ctgreenbank.com to request a solar PV permit package, or make your own using the resources below!
- CT Standardized Instructions Template for Solar PV Permitting
This instructions template offers a “fill in the blank” form for CT municipalities to create a customized one-page instructions sheet on their solar permit process.
- Solar PV Permit Application (Standalone) and Instructions
This is a standalone permit application that can be used for solar PV projects
- Solar PV Permit Application (Supplement) V2
The Solar PV Permit Application Supplement can be used as a template for municipalities to create their own solar PV permit application, or as a guide for what to capture in a permit application.
- Sample Attachments to the Solar PV Permit Application
The sample attachments offer an example of what type of information you should request from solar contractors to process the permit application.
- Structural Review Worksheet for Solar PV
This is an optional attachment that can be used by qualified reviewers to evaluate the adequacy of a roof framing structure for solar PV.
- Solar PV Tax Exemption Form
- This sample form can be used by a municipality to register a homeowner’s solar PV system and exempt the system from local property taxes.
Sample Completed Solar PV Permit Application Package for the town of Seymour
Solar PV Inspection Resources
It is helpful to make requirements and processes as transparent and clear as possible for contractors and for your inspectors. Most rooftop solar PV systems can be evaluated with a single comprehensive inspection. Consider ways your municipality could organize and combine necessary inspections by utilizing an installer/inspector checklist. By providing resources to municipal staff conducting reviews and inspections, it is easier for officials to know what the building code specifically requires for solar PV.
Make it easier for your municipality to identify what to look for so that solar PV systems are being installed properly and safely in your community. The below toolset offers options for better understanding PV installations, common problem areas, and how to ensure a safe installation. With these recommendations, you can help make the work of municipal staff easier and less time-consuming.
This document compiles applicable code requirements for solar PV installations. It can be used as a reference by installers, municipal staff, and inspectors to clarify what the codes do and do not require for solar PV.
Solar PV Training Resources
The resources in this section allow municipalities to access inexpensive training for staff that also counts for continuing education credits. Allowing your staff to access the latest ideas and tools being offered by state initiatives can help your community to grow and prosper. Trained personnel know what to look for, and can help alleviate frustration and excessive work for municipalities, installers and property owners.
Online Training Resources:
- CT Green Bank-hosted trainings and webinars specifically for inspectors -- check our website, www.energizect.com/sunrisene, for updates.
- “Photovoltaic Online Training for Code Officials” developed by Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
- Solar Energy International offers workshops on solar PV as well as a variety of textbooks in eBook format and print editions.
- Sandia National Laboratories has put together “photovoltaic guide post,” multimedia tutorials for code inspectors.
- “Understanding National Electrical Code (NEC) Requirements for Solar Photovoltaic Systems, Based on the 2011 NEC,” Mike Holt, available at Mike Holt Solar PV Products.
- Brooks Solar offers training and workshops. Visit their site to download their “recommended reading,” and “training materials” including “Expedited permit Process,” and “A Guide to PV System Design and Installation.”
- Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABC’s) “Expedited Permit Process for PV Systems. A Standardized Process for the Review of Small-Scale PV Systems,” prepared by Bill Brooks, P.E., Brooks Engineering.
- “NABCEP Photovoltaic (PV) Installation Professional Resource Guide,” version 6, authored by William Brooks and James Dunlop, published 2013 by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), is available as a PDF download free of charge on the NABCEP website.
- IREC’s Solar Instructor Training Resources.
Resources for Firefighter Safety:
As solar PV deployment increases, firefighters will be more likely to encounter a home or business with a solar PV system installed. Training and notification that a PV system is located at a home are two great ways to reduce risk to firefighters. More information about firefighter safety and solar PV is available at the following website.
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), “Fire Safety and Solar,”
- Clean Energy States Alliance fire safety training module:
In Person Training Resources:
Updates on upcoming trainings will be posted here, or you can email CGBsunshot@ctgreenbank.com to find out if there is an upcoming training near you.
You can also check the CT Office of Education and Data Management (OEDM) website. OEDM offers periodic trainings on solar PV in their fall and spring course schedules.
Solar PV Planning and Zoning Resources
Municipal planning and zoning regulations can impact the size, shape and location of residential solar PV systems and may impact a homeowner’s ability to install solar. The following tools and resources can help municipalities evaluate whether their zoning regulations make sense for solar PV, and provide suggestions for establishing solar-friendly zoning regulations.
Planning and Zoning Recommendations for Municipalities
Solar PV Model Zoning Ordinance
The solar PV Model Zoning Ordinance can be used as a template to establish solar-specific zoning regulations in your municipality
Solar Site Design Worksheet for a Proposed Subdivision
The Solar Site Design Worksheet can be used to prompt developers to consider solar-friendly design elements in their subdivision plans, and prove they are compliant with CGS § 8-25 (b).
Solar PV Model Permitting Ordinance
The Solar PV Model Permitting Ordinance can be used by municipalities to codify and commit to best practices for solar PV permitting.
Template Letter to Municipality Suggesting Use of CT Rooftop Solar PV Permitting Guide
Use this letter template to suggest that your municipality adopt best practices for solar PV!
Project Deliverables and Other Resources
CT Rooftop Solar PV Permitting Guide Version 2.0
The full Rooftop Solar PV Permitting Guide compiles the solar PV permitting recommendations and resources found on this site into a single resource.
Round 1 Final Project Report
The Round 1 Final Project Report details the Connecticut teams research on the sources of solar “soft costs” in Connecticut, and initial recommendations for addressing these barriers to solar PV deployment in the state.
Connecticut Municipal Solar Scorecards
In 2016 the Yale Data-Driven Environmental Solutions Group developed and released Connecticut Municipal Solar Scorecards. The solar scorecards evaluate Connecticut municipalities’ efforts to encourage residential solar PV deployment in their communities across five categories: information availability, solar adoption, clean energy engagement, permit process, and permit time & cost.
The goal of scorecards is to:
- Provide municipalities data-drive insights into solar power adoption in their jurisdictions
- Illuminate municipalities’ participation in clean energy initiatives
- Demonstrate the impact of municipal permit processes on solar PV deployment
- Inspire communities to make going solar as simple as possible for their residents!
The scorecards provide metrics on how each municipality performs on solar engagement and permitting related activities to help municipalities identify areas where they perform well or can improve. The scorecards provide a baseline for municipalities to measure progress and an opportunity to learn from peers across the state.
Municipalities are encouraged to review their scores at www.ctsolarscoreboard.com.
For assistance addressing barriers to solar PV deployment in your municipal permit process, contact email@example.com.
Material presented on this website is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge under award number DE-EE0005688 issued to the Sun Rise New England - Open for Business team, led by Connecticut Green Bank and work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Rooftop Solar Challenge II under award number DE-FOA-0000788 issued to the New England Cost Reduction Partnership led by the Clean Energy States Alliance.
This material was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof.
The views and opinions of authors expressed in these materials do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.
The material provided on this website is not intended to replace or supplant existing state or federal codes or regulations. There are no warranties associated with the use of this information. Some of this material, which is/was believed to be accurate at the time of publication, may no longer be accurate, current, or comply with existing codes and regulations. Neither the authors nor any other organizations or individuals who have contributed to this Guide are accountable for the use or misuse of information obtained herein. The views expressed in this Guide are not necessarily the views of the entire project team, the state of Connecticut nor contributors of information to the project and Guide.
For more information on the SunShot Initiative, visit: http://energy.gov/eere/sunshot/sunshot-initiative.