Colorado passes bill to speed up solar permitting, inspection


The Colorado Legislature has passed HB-1234, which establishes the Streamlined Solar Permitting and Inspection Grant Program and provides nearly $1 million to help local governments with start-up costs associated with adopting permitting and inspection software. The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Dylan Roberts and Perry Will in the Senate, and Matt Soper and Kyle Brown in the House.

“Colorado’s mountain communities are eager to develop solar technology, but all too often, projects are held up in the labor-intensive permitting process, and sometimes even canceled. These grants will help reduce time, costs, and burden for permitting, and keep us in line with our greenhouse gas reduction goals,” according to bill sponsor Dylan Roberts. “House Bill 1234 is a win for both our economy and our environment.”

Last year the Department of Energy (DOE) released a solar guidebook that encourages local governments to adopt SolarAPP+ (Solar Automated Permit Process), a software platform, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and UL Solutions, that can immediately approve residential permits. According to NREL, projects submitted through the app are 37% less likely to fail final inspections than projects that don’t use the tool. At present, 32 communities across the U.S. are using SolarAPP+, resulting in over 15,000 residential solar permits issued, accounting for 100,000 kW of electricity and 15,000 estimated staff hours saved on reviewing permits.

“We commend the Colorado legislature for advancing expedited permitting on residential solar projects while prioritizing compliance with safety and code standards,” said Ken Boyce, senior director of principal engineering at UL Solutions. “We recognize the value SolarAPP+ brings to governments, the public and the solar industry, and how it will serve as an important enabler of safer and cleaner energy.”

SolarApp+ is already in use in the city of Denver. With HB-1234 in place, communities in Colorado will get financial help with start-up costs of using SolarApp+. Colorado enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, offering vast solar potential. Currently the state has about 2 GW of solar resources installed, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, and is ranked 13th in the nation for solar. Streamlining the solar permitting and inspection process can help more Coloradans speed up the process of harnessing that sunshine.

“This will empower local officials to automate permitting and inspections, which will reduce staff time and cut costs,” said Mike Kruger, CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association (COSSA). “In turn, this will give homeowners immediate results for their permit applications, and solar and storage companies can hire more staff to support an increase in projects approved.”

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