On Thursday, The National Renewable Energy Lab , in partnership with govtech provider Accela, launched a free online solar permitting platform, SolarAPP+, for residential solar energy and battery projects. The new app completely eliminates permitting processing time—taking the process “from two-weeks to instantaneous”—while cutting as much as $2,000 off the cost of a residential solar installation, according to Accela. The cloud-based solution is being rolled out to 1,500 permitting agencies around the country.
SolarAPP+ is owned by The Solar Foundation and available at no cost to permitting agencies.
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“Agencies across the country are increasingly looking for ways to speed up solar permitting to support local jobs, drive economic growth and protect the environment,” Tom Nieto, Accela’s COO, said in a statement. “We’re excited about partnering with the National Renewable Energy Lab on this project … to improve efficiency, increase citizen engagement and build thriving and resilient communities for today and for the future.”
Developed by NREL with funding by the U.S. Department of Energy and in partnership with Accela, local governments and code development bodies, the software is compatible with permitting software including Accela and OpenGov, which serve thousands of local governments and hundreds of millions of people across the United States, Accela said. Accela customers can integrate SolarAPP+ into their Accela Building platforms to track permits from a single system.
“Accela recognizes that it takes a complex ecosystem of government leaders, citizens, local businesses and technology partners to create smart cities,” Jeffrey Cook, SolarAPP+’s Product Lead at NREL, said in a statement. “By integrating SolarAPP+, they’re demonstrating a commitment to providing cities and counties of all sizes with solutions to rebalance permitting workload and thereby unlock the immense economic opportunity available with home solar energy.”
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According to Accela, the need for SolarAPP+ has never been greater. Residential solar and battery applications make up an increasing share of permitting pipelines with authorities having jurisdiction receiving hundreds of applications per month. By digitizing a paper-based process, SolarAPP+ instantly catches code issues and errors such as typos and frees up permitting staff to focus on more complex or unique applications.
“We’re excited to have an easy-to-use solution for our community that improves user experience for residents and agency staff alike through an instantaneous solar permitting process,” Carla Blackwell, director of Development Services at Pima County, Arizona, said in a statement. “By leveraging SolarAPP+, our agency has been able to save valuable time, money and human resources to process roughly 250 permits per month in the region.”