Santa Barbara streamlines permitting for residential solar and storage


The City of Santa Barbara, California, has streamlined the permitting process for both residential solar and residential solar with battery energy storage systems through a process called On-Demand Permitting (ODP).

ODP eliminates the plan check phase in permitting and issues a permit immediately, as long as the proposed project meets minimum requirements. Solar systems rated less than 10 kW with optional energy storage systems less than 47 kWh are eligible for this type of permit.

Once the system has been installed and is undergoing project inspection, City Building and Safety staff will verify that the project has met permit terms.

The city said that building a vast network of distributed energy resources is an important step toward ensuring energy resilience and reliability, citing California’s recent history of destructive natural disasters and rolling power shutoffs as challenges that need to be addressed.

This move to streamline distributed generation permitting by the City of Santa Barbara mirrors Hawaiian Electric Co.’s new Quick Connect program. Customers on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii islands installing new systems can now have the standard approval process be handled after the system is built and turned on.

The key differences are that Hawaiian Electric’s program does not include residential storage and caps out system size at 25 kW in capacity, with Santa Barbara’s cap being a much lower 10 kW. Hawaiian Electric’s program is also only set to run for a year, with the possibility of expansion later, while Santa Barbara’s appears to be indefinite.

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