California has been supporting Solar Industry for many years by approving aggressive goals towards lowering our state dependency on fossil fuel. Following are some of California's goals for spreading the use of renewable energies such as solar:
A plan was passed in 2020 (by California regulators) that will mandate new homes and major remodels up to 3 units in the state use solar energy. This important victory for homeowners will become effective in 2020.
California has always been the leading state in High Technologies and Clean Technologies, and that is why California managed to be world’s 5th largest economy. This approval makes California to be the first state in the nation to mandate solar power system installation on single-family residences as well as multi-family residential properties (up to 3 stories) including condos and apartment complexes.
This move will be very much beneficial for everyone, because it will create a lot of jobs for manufacturers, designers, installers, advisors, etc. Moreover, it will help our economy because it will lower our dependency on fossil fuel to generate electricity. Not to mention that this move will help Californians to benefit from a cleaner and greener state.
The approval of mandatory solar panels for new construction is expected to add on average about $9.500 to the cost of new houses which will be offset by the reduction or elimination of the electric bill.
Most of the industry experts including Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA (the Solar Energy Industries Association) believe this is a historic decision for the state and the U.S.
An important part of every solar project is the city permit process. This means your installer's permit team must be well familiar with your city's requirement for your solar installation, otherwise your project will go through many revisions. Following you will find information regarding solar permit processes in different cities and AHJs (Authority Having Jurisdiction):
If you are looking for solar panel installation in City of Los Angeles and the relative utility that serves its territory is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), then this article is for you. The associated links will help you learn more about the overall process, the available solar panel incentives, permitting process, interconnection process and Permit to operation (PTO).
Here is contact information for the City of Los Angeles and it relative departments related to solar power system installation:
Phone: 3-1-1 (within City of Los Angeles)
Phone: (213) 473-3231
Phone: 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-484-0433)
The Overall Process:
- Find your solar installer: This is extremely important to your solar panel installation success, so it is important for you to find the right solar installer. It is not solely the matter of working with an installer, but more so about working with the right solar installer. Not all solar installers are made equal. In order to find the right installer for your solar project, you should consult with an unbiased Energy Advisor who is knowledgeable about the available incentives, solar panel brands, solar inverters, solar loans, etc. Click HERE to schedule a FREE consultation with a local League Solar Advisor.
- Find your best financing option: Your solar financing must be tailored to your current financial situation. All contractors develop relationship with financing companies, but not all financing options are equal. Hence, it is always better to work with the right solar installer who carries your best interest and the right solar financing/loans.
- Apply for incentives: Your EAH Energy Advisor will explain your incentives for you, but timing is key, and it’s important to keep in mind the LADWP incentives are expiring soon.
- Complete Permitting Process: This must be done by your solar installer and it is extremely important for them to be fully familiar with the process, otherwise it will turn out to be a lengthy process.
- Once the permit is issued, your installer will install your solar power system, and afterwards it will be time for interconnecting your solar system to the utility grid.
- Finally, you should submit your incentive claims to be processed.
The City of Los Angeles requires a building permit for the structural support of all solar energy device installations with the exception of the following list below. Their requirements, regulations and codes may change from time to time, so it is highly recommended to work with an experienced and licensed solar installer or by visiting LADBS for more up to date information.
A building permit is not required when all of the following requirements are met:
- Solar device is roof mounted and does not exceed the existing building height at the highest point,
- The solar energy device system weight does not exceed four pounds per square foot,
- The solar energy device is installed within 18” of the roof immediately below,
- The maximum concentrated load imposed by a solar energy device support onto the roof structure is a maximum of 60 pounds (0.18 kN); and
- For wood construction, the maximum spacing for supports of the solar energy devices are be 48” on center, and are anchored to solid roof rafters or to solid blocking with a minimum of one 5/16” diameter lag screw embedded a minimum of 21/2”, or as recommended by the manufacturer, (whichever is more stringent). For other type of construction, the support shall be approved by the Department.
Building Plan Check
Structural support of solar energy devices requiring a building permit are to be submitted to a building plan check for approval. You may apply for Express permit if your permit does not require a plan check.
A plan check with LADBS is required if your solar installation project is more complex and does not meet the requirements for an Express Permit.
Complete plans are to be submitted showing dimensions and location of the supporting structure in relation to the property lines and any adjacent building.
- Substantiating design calculations are required for supporting member sizes, connection details, and design loads imposed on the roof or other support.
- Where the solar panel/collector surface inhibits superimposed concentrated loads, the weight of the collector may replace part of the code-required live load.
- Regardless of the weight of the solar panel or collector, a minimum of one-half of code required live load should be used for design.
- The wind load on the vertical projection of the collector is to be included in the analysis.
- Provide a note on the plan, “No guardrails are required for installed solar energy devices pursuant to LAMC 91.1013.5.”
- All roof penetrations are to be sealed using approved methods and products to prevent water leakage.
Electrical Plan Check/Electrical Permit
- Electrical Plan Check: Electrical plan check is required for all photovoltaic system installations.
- Permits: An electrical permit is required for installation of solar photovoltaic systems.
Express Permits Exception: Plan check is not required if all of the conditions listed below are met:
- The installation is in a one or two family dwelling.
- A maximum of 2 strings are installed per inverter.
- The total capacity of the photovoltaic system being installed is 10 KW or less.
- No DC combiner box is installed (other than the box that is part of and is listed with the inverter).
- System contains only inverters with isolation transformers.
- No GFCI or AFCI overcurrent devices are installed in the Alternate Current (AC) output of the inverter.
- Modules shall be roof mounted crystalline or multi-crystalline material.
- AC Power system shall be 120/240 volts single phase.
- The minimum service panel size should meet one of the following:
- 100 amps for systems with a maximum 20 amperes dedicated AC branch circuit, or
- 150 amps for systems having a maximum 30 (or two 15) amperes dedicated AC branch circuit(s), or
- 200 amps for systems having a maximum 40 (or two 20) amperes dedicated AC branch circuit(s).
- The rating of service panel shall not exceed 225 amperes.
- No AC modules, storage batteries, hybrid systems, or microinverters are installed.
If the above conditions are met, you can submit Form E and Form EPv to the express permit counter.
Permit for Photovoltaic Systems which do not require an Electrical Plan Check (Express Permits):
- Prior to permit issuance, the Express Permit Counter staff is to refer all permit applications for photovoltaic systems to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) for approval. In addition, the Express Permit Counter staff will initialize the permit application for photovoltaic system(s), create a clearance summary sheet for Zoning Approval, and direct customers to the Zoning counter to obtain clearance approval.
Fire Department and Zoning approval
LAFD approval is required for all solar photovoltaic systems (solar power systems) permits. LAFD’s installation guidelines are available at LAFD Website.
All Express Permits and electrical plan checks must have an approval from the Zoning Counter for a clearance.
- It must be determined by the zoning staffs if the site is within a Specific Plan, HPOZ, ICO, CRA, or if it involves a historical monument (i.e. CEQA review) and must refer customers to the appropriate agency by creating the required clearances, if clearance approval is required.
- Once all the clearances are approved by the appropriate agency, the Zoning Plan Check Counter staff shall approve the zoning clearance in PCIS and direct customers to the Express Permit Counter (for Express permits) or to the Electrical Plan Check counter (for electrical plan check applications) to complete the process.
Construction of your solar power system and City Inspections:
Once all of the mentioned permits and clearances are issued, then your selected solar installer can install the solar panels for your house. Upon completion of your installation, LADBS and LADF inspections start. You or your solar contractor must contact building and safety for inspection.
LADWP solar inspection
Once your incentive payment claim is submitted, a solar inspection will be initiated upon completion of all the required documents and steps. The inspector schedules an appointment to visit the job site to verify the system specification and installation details. Once it is confirmed by the inspector that everything has been done by code and in compliance by the approved plans, then the inspector will install net meter and remove lock, but the system cannot be turned on until the final approval of the solar installation is submitted to the solar group by the inspector.
The following steps are extracted from Burbank Water and Power website, but it is highly recommended to work with an experienced and licensed (preferably a local) installer who is well familiar with the solar permit process in the City of Burbank.Step 1: Get Confirmation of Services Document
Submit your confirmation service document and a full set of plans to Building Division of City of Burbank.Step 2: Electrical Interconnection & Metering Agreement
Complete and sign two original copies of Interconnection and Net Energy Metering Agreements , and then mail it to Burbank Water and Power, Attention: Solar Support Manager, 164 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502.Step 3: Apply for a Permit
You must pull a permit for solar panel installation in City of Burbank. This process is handled by City of Burbank Building Division . You can upload your documents to the online platform called Project Dox .Step 4: Pick Up Your Plans
You will receive an email to pick up your plans when they are ready for pick up. Once the permit is pulled, the installation of the solar system may begin.Step 5: Install the Solar System!
It is important to pay close attention to labeling requirements to avoid any delay and/or additional inspection costs. For more questions about labeling call (818) 238-3585 at the City of Burbank (Test Shop).Step 6: Schedule Inspections & Finalize Permit
Call the building division to schedule your Fire Department and Building Inspection once your solar power system is installed. Here is the contact number for the Building Division (818) 238-5220.Step 7: BWP Installs the Performance Meter
BWP will install a performance meter and conducts safety tests on your solar system once they receive the notification from the building division that your inspection is completed and passed.Step 8: The Solar System is Connected!
BWP will leave a door hanger on the home or business owner’s door letting them know that their system is connected. The home or business owner will also get a copy of the Solar Net Metering and Interconnection Agreement along with an Assembly Bill 920 election form in the mail.
As mentioned before, installing a solar power system is definitely a good idea, but much of the result depends on working with the right solar installer to get your desired results. There are about 2,500 solar installers in California, but only a few of them are suitable installers for your house or business. Hence, it is highly recommended that you speak with an expert who is familiar with the process inside out.
The following steps are extracted from Glendale Water and Power website:
- GWP customer chooses a solar installer to do the measurements, prepare the site layout and system design.
- Customer or contractor submits a signed interconnection application via PowerClerk which must include the following items on the list. Also, Local Solar Installers in Glendale, CA should be entirely familiar with the requirements.
- Site Diagram
- One Line Diagram
- Data sheets for the equipments (Solar Panels and Solar Inverters)
- One of GWP solar solution staff will forward the mentioned documents to GWP Engineering.
- GWP Engineering team will visit the property and provide a solar meter spot drawing while the Interconnection Agreement is forwarded to the General Manager for approval.
- GWP emails the spot drawing to the solar installer on record upon interconnection approval and spot drawing completion.
- Solar Solution staff uploads the interconnection agreement to PowerClerk and sends out a notification email to the customer and solar contractor/installer.
- Then, the solar installer/contractor makes sure their solar plans are consistent with GWP’s solar meter spot drawing.
- Customer receives a copy of the executed interconnection agreement from GWP Engineering via email.
- GWP Engineering approves the solar plans (two sets) and provides an over-the-counter permit application (Solar Energy Worksheet).
- The permit application and approved solar plans will be submitted to the Building and Safety Department (B&S) by the solar contractor/installer. For more information regarding the Solar Energy Permit, process and requirements, contact Glendale Building and Safety at (818) 548-3200.
- Solar plans must be approved by Building, Electrical and Fire Departments, but the permit will be issued by Building and Safety.
- Your solar installer/contractor must contact GWP Engineering for a pre-construction meeting by calling (818) 548-3920 before starting the installation of your solar system.
- Your solar contractor must install your solar power system in compliance with the plans, codes and regulations.
- Your solar installer/contractor contacts Building and Safety (818-548-4830) to schedule an inspection. For commercial properties, your contractor must contact (818) 548-3920.
- Building and Safety notifies GWP Engineering once the inspection is passed and final sign-off is in place.
- GWP Engineering submits a work order to GWP field services to install the solar meter once the inspection release is received.
- Once the solar meter is installed, an email will be sent to the customer and the installer on file to turn the system on.
Please visit GWP website for more detailed information.
If you need to speak with an experienced, licensed and unbiased Energy Advisor click HERE to go to Solar Yellow Pages. League Solar Advisors have access to UFB Proposal tool which generates multiple competitive quotes from top rated solar installers who install solar panels in the City of Glendale. It is always good to know your options before making a decision. Go solar with confidence.
According to Pasadena Water and Power website, as of 01/01/2018, PWP will no longer offer any incentives for solar installations. Although incentives are no longer offered, installation of a solar power system is still beneficial and PWP staff will continue to assist customers who are interested in installing solar photovoltaic systems in their home or business.
Currently, PWP electric customers who have a solar PV system and a solar meter (provided by PWP) are eligible to receive compensation for any “net surplus electricity” generated by their system.
You should consider the following items before starting the process:
- Eligibility: If you are an Electric Customer of PWP, you are eligible for the PSI program.
- A PSI application approval must be obtained from PWP before applying for a building permit for a solar installation. A separate application is required for each PWP electric account/service/meter.
- All PV systems must meet the technical requirements listed in Public Resource Code Section 25782 and described in the next section below, “Technical Requirements.”
The following are some of the technical requirements according to PWP website:
- Solar System Size, Location, and Ownership Requirements
- System Size: The solar energy system must be between 1kW and 1,000 kW CEC-AC and intended primarily to offset part or all of the customer’s own electricity demand. Systems should be sized to produce no more than 100% of the customer’s average annual energy consumption as shown on the PWP billing record for the three years previous to the application submittal. If the customer’s account has less than a three year history, the average will be calculated with available data.
- New or Expanded Facility: Applications with new or expanded sites with no electric bill history or where the existing electric bill does not reflect the customer’s expected expanded consumption, must include an estimate of the expected expanded consumption. Suggested methods of demonstrating load growth include building simulation program reports such as eQUEST, EnergyPro, and DOE-2; Title 24 energy modeling report (including ECON-1 sheet). The PSI Program Manager will request copies of building permits for the new construction or expansion.
- Added PV Capacity: Solar systems installed under previous Solar Program qualify for additional solar capacity under PSI. New application is required and current PSI requirements will apply.
- Location: The PV system must be permanently installed on the same premises where the customer’s electricity demand is located.
- Interconnection: The PV system must be connected to PWP’s electrical distribution grid.
- Ownership: The customer may lease the PV system or purchase its output from a third-party PV system owner/operator/installer.
- Interconnection to the Electric Utility Distribution System
Eligible solar electric generating energy systems must be permanently interconnected to the electrical distribution grid of the utility serving the customer’s electrical load. Portable systems are not eligible. The system interconnection must comply with applicable electrical codes and utility interconnection requirements.
- Solar Energy System Components and Warranty
All components in the solar energy system must be new and unused and must not have been previously been placed in service in any other location or for any other application.
All major solar energy system components, including PV modules, inverters, and meters must be included on the CEC’s Eligible Equipment Lists.
All solar energy systems must have a minimum 10-year warranty provided in combination by the manufacturer and installer to protect the purchaser against defective workmanship, system or component breakdown, or degradation in electrical output of more than fifteen percent from their originally rated electrical output during the ten-year period.
The solar energy system must be installed in conformance with the manufacturer’s specifications and in compliance with all applicable electrical and building code standards.
For information about PWP’s rules and regulations for electrical design and installation, please read about Regulation 21. For installations larger than 10 kW AC, rules and regulations governing Regulation 23 (Distributed Generation Interconnection Requirements) may apply.
All installations are required to obtain the appropriate building permits from Department of Planning and Development located at 175 N. Garfield Ave, Pasadena CA 91101. For more information, please call at 626-744-6646 or visit the Permit Center.
- Utility AC Manual Disconnect
PWP requires an AC Utility Manual Disconnect Switch with visible break switch contacts that are lockable in the open position within eight (8) feet from the Customer Service Equipment that functions as the Point of Connection to the electric utility.
The Utility AC Manual Disconnect Switch shall be readily accessible to the Utility at all times and located immediately adjacent to the Customer Service Equipment that functions as the Point of Connection to the electric utility.
The purpose of the Utility AC Manual Disconnect Switch is to provide a separation point between the solar system and the Utility Electric Distribution System. The Utility AC Manual Disconnect Switch is to be used to isolate the PV system ONLY during operational conditions in order to safeguard utility personnel.
The Utility AC Manual Disconnect Switch should be installed upstream to the solar system and it must be able to electrically disconnect the entire solar system, including the performance meter. AC Manual Disconnect Switch must be permanently marked to identify it as a Utility AC Manual Disconnect Switch.
If the location of the AC Manual Disconnect Switch cannot be installed within eight (8) feet from the Point of Connection to the electric utility, its location must be approved at the discretion of the Utility. All questions regarding the location of the Utility AC Manual Disconnect will be directed to the Utility Service Planning Department at 626.744.4495.
- Meter Requirements
The PSI Program requires accurate energy production meters for all installations. Accurate measurement of solar energy output is of paramount importance to ensure optimum value for solar owners.
PWP requires a performance meter (Utility Grade Single Socket (SS) 4 clip) in all solar installations. Performance meter must be supplied and installed by the solar contractor/installer.
Meters and service panels must meet all local building and utility codes.
PWP will replace the existing utility meter with a solar net meter after the system passes PWP Field Inspection and before the system is authorized to connect to the grid at no cost to the customer.
- Maximizing Solar Generation
For all solar systems, the applicant is required to input monthly shade impact results from a shading study conducted at the proposed system site. These inputs are used as monthly derate factors (100% = no shading, 0% = total shading) to adjust the PV Watts output for shading. The shade analysis tool must be specific to the location, azimuth and tilt of the system being measured and must correct for magnetic declination.
For rectangular areas, a minimum of four (4) shading measurements must be taken, one at each corner. For irregular areas, a shading measurement is taken at each corner.
PWP performs a final inspection and commissioning for all solar installations in order to verify that the project is installed as represented in the application and conforms to the eligibility criteria of the PSI Program.
- Energy Efficiency Audits
An Energy Efficiency Audit is required prior to installing your solar power system.
Please be advised that your installer must be registered with City PowerClerk to be able to initiate and complete the process for you. The following links will provide you with additional information regarding PWP Fire Department Guideline for solar installation in Pasadena and Building solar guidelines: