California Solar Permitting Guidebook

Dear APA Members:

APA California and individual APA California members have been actively involved this year in legislation and other efforts to streamline and provide guidance for the local permitting of residential and commercial solar systems. This e-blast provides APA members with the results of two such efforts:

1. The “California Solar Permitting Guidebook” just published by the Office of Planning and Research, and

2. The “Model Solar Energy Facility Permitting Streamlining Guidance Document & Model Ordinance” completed earlier this year by the California County Planning Directors Association.

Please take the time to review these excellent guidance documents and incorporate their recommendations into your efforts to encourage solar energy in your community.


The California Solar Permitting Guidebook was developed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to help improve local permitting of small solar photovoltaic (PV systems). It was developed in partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders, including local governments, planners and solar contractors. It’s a first-of-its-kind guide that presents helpful information on solar permitting in one place.

The guidebook explains current requirements for solar PV installations, describes key steps in the permitting process, and recommends ways to improve local permitting. Of specific assistance to planners, the guidebook also provides a “Toolkit” that consists of template documents that local governments can customize for their own use, including:

· A local information bulletin.

· Standard plans.

· Example MOU.

· A technical information bulletin for single-family residences.

· A technical information bulletin of current state code requirements for residential and commercial solar systems.

· Examples of excellent solar permitting processes currently used in several jurisdictions.

The guidebook can be helpful to a local agency staff, solar contractors and property owners. A customizable version of the Guidebook can be found on the website of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research is also reaching out to local governments interested in improving local permitting of small-scale solar installations. If you are working for a local agency and would like help improving your city or county solar permitting process, please contact OPR Deputy Director Wade Crowfoot at 415-322-5326 or [email protected].


The CCPDA Model Solar Energy Facility Permit Streamlining Guide is intended to assist local agencies in facilitating the appropriate development of Tier 1‐3 facilities as well as large‐scale or utility‐scale solar facilities (Tier 4).

CCPDA is encouraging each County to use these helpful documents to update local Zoning Ordinances “to help California achieve 12,000 megawatts of solar PV by 2020.” This information is designed to assist local agencies in dealing with land use conflicts such as the loss of agricultural land, environmental impacts, visual impacts, and reclamation issues. All of the information is available for your use at .

Solar Permitting Guidebook – OPR PowerPoint