Streamlined Permitting

Solar Industry Generates More Jobs Than Energy Utilities

Solar Workers Gather at Capitol to Celebrate Solar Jobs, Promote AB 2188

SACRAMENTO - Wearing hard hats and bright yellow shirts, dozens of solar installers from across the state gathered at the State Capitol to call on policy makers to create jobs by cutting red tape through streamlined and standardized permitting.  As more and more Californians go solar to control their electricity costs and help the state meets its climate goals, local governments can do their part by making it easier for their residents to navigate often-complicated permitting processes. 

“An inconsistent patchwork of permitting requirements forces the industry to bear extra costs for small solar systems that are as easy to install as a HVAC system,” said Andrew Gutierrez, a SolarCity installer from Fresno.  “There is no reason why permit requirements in one city should differ significantly from an neighboring city for the exact same system.”

The solar installers spent the day educating lawmakers about the importance of continuing to grow California’s rooftop solar market through sound policy.  According to recent analyses by The Solar Foundation and the California Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry now employs more workers--47,000--than the state’s investor-owned utilities combined. 

“Rooftop solar power is not only contributing meaningfully to California’s clean energy goals, it is also putting people to work in every corner of the state,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA).  “We’re talking a big number of local construction jobs from the North Coast to the Central Valley to the Inland Empire that can’t be outsourced.” 

The solar installers were joined by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), author of AB 2188, which would streamline permitting requirements for rooftop solar energy systems.   

California is home to over 500 cities and counties, each with a different process for permitting the same rooftop solar system.  The majority of these processes are overly complicated, time consuming and not reflective of the innovation that has occurred in the solar industry.  This patchwork of requirements adds an estimated $1,500-$3,500 to a typical solar system.

“While it can take a solar company eight hours to install a home solar system, it can take as many as five weeks to get a permit,” said Al Muratsuchi (D –Torrance). “AB 2188 is a commonsense approach to reducing red tape, promoting clean energy, and helping consumers save money.”

AB 2188 passed the Assembly by a vote of 58-8. It now heads to the Senate floor.  Today’s lobby day was sponsored jointly by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) and CALSEIA. Over fifty solar installers traveled to the Capitol from around the state to participate in today’s activities.  Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Senator Mark Leno were also presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their unwavering support for the solar industry during their legislative careers.

 “It is important that the legislators get to know the people who are building the energy infrastructure of the future,” said Walker Wright, director of public policy for Sunrun, Inc.  “These workers have essentially built four coal-fired power plants-worth of solar power on a quarter of a million roofs throughout the state.  Now that’s something to celebrate.” 


Since the 1970s, CALSEIA has advanced the common interests of the California solar industry, helping make California's solar market the most robust in the United States. Comprised of California solar contractors, manufacturers, distributors, developers, utilities, engineers, consultants and educational organizations, CALSEIA represents a diverse membership committed to growing the California solar industry. CALSEIA engages with local and state decision makers to ensure California remains a solar energy leader through good public policy and regulations that provide clarity, transparency, and certainty for our growing market. 

Who is TASC?

The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) believes that everyone should have access to the economic and environmental benefits of renewable distributed generation. Rooftop solar provides residents, businesses, schools and public entities with a clean and efficient alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels. TASC is committed to protecting and promoting Net Energy Metering (NEM), which provides fair credit when a customer’s solar system sends excess energy to the grid. NEM is currently authorized in California and 42 other states. 

Bill to Lower Cost of Solar Passes Assembly

AB 2188 (Muratsuchi) Aims To Cut Byzantine Permitting Procedures For Homeowners Wins Bipartisan Support                                                                 

Update 4:11pm, May 27. Final vote count is 58-8.

SACRAMENTO - A bill establishing a streamlined permitting and inspection procedure for small, residential solar energy systems passed out of the State Assembly today. Assembly Bill 2188 takes aim at the patchwork quilt of costly ‘red tape’ permitting procedures in 500 cities and counties statewide promising to lower costs for homeowners and local governments alike. 

“Many jurisdictions in the state have adopted best practices that have significantly cut down on permitting wait times, while maintaining important public health and safety standards,” said Al Muratsuchi (D –Torrance), author of the bill. “It’s time that we expand these practices statewide, which will help make solar more affordable and increase access to more California homeowners who want to control their electricity bills and generate their own clean energy.”

In much the same way as cell phones a decade ago, the price of solar has fallen 50% since 2006 mainly due to economies of scale in manufacturing. However, the “soft costs” of solar, including the cost of getting a permit from a local building department, remains a stubborn thorn in the side of the solar industry desperate to keep lowering costs and achieve parity with fossil fuels.  

“Your typical home solar energy system has become practically cookie-cutter,” said Kelsea Jones, deputy director with the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “From Chico to Chula Vista, we’re talking about the exact same product, design, and installation, yet many building departments require byzantine permits as if they are installing a nuclear power plant up there.”

Research has shown that costs associated with attaining a building permit for a residential solar energy system can be significant. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs concluded that streamlining the permitting process could potentially reduce the price of a typical residential solar system by $1,000 or more, on average, and cut development time by about a month.

Approximately 158,000 solar roofs were installed on California homes in 2013, double the number from 2012. The growth in homeowners going solar, fueled by financial incentives and a desire to cut energy bills, has led to a backlog of work at local permitting offices. Advocates of AB 2188 point out that streamlining the permitting process for solar not only helps homeowners but also cuts workloads for cash-strapped building departments.

“Streamlined permitting doesn’t mean weaker consumer protections,” said Tom Butts, city council member in Richmond, which has already adopted a streamlined permitting procedure akin to that envisioned in AB 2188. “Local governments run more smoothly by applying practical, tried and true efficiency measures to the permitting system.”

AB 2188 passed the Assembly with a vote of 52-5. It now moves to the Senate where it will be heard in Governance and Finance Committee in June.  The bill is supported by a coalition of business associations, solar companies, environmental groups, and local elected officials.