Solar Ready Success!

The average cost to install a solar PV system has fallen dramatically in recent years. As families choose solar PV, they bring jobs, clean energy, and a heightened awareness of energy consumption to Washington and Oregon residents.

Our progress to date:

Graph of installed MW updated January 2015
Sources: Phil Lou, WSU Energy Program, and Rob DelMar, Oregon Department of Energy

As communities cut red tape to make solar PV easier, they further cut the cost and increase the adoption of solar. Here are some examples of how our partners are making Northwest communities “Solar Ready.”

Solarize

Solarize is a program dedicated to promoting clean energy to communities across the Northwest by working with a number of groups including neighborhood organizations, solar installers, utilities, cities, financing institutions, and foundations. Click here for a table showing the progress so far this year. 

Expedited Installations in WA

On July 1, an emergency rule became effective which allows solar photovoltaic systems to be installed on residences meeting certain criteria without requiring engineering. This change is to IRC Section M2302.2.1 and deems that the roof structure adequate to support the additional load if:

  1. The solar photovoltaic panel system shall be designed for the wind speed of the local area, and shall be installed per the manufacturer’s specifications.
  2. The ground snow load does not exceed 70 pounds per square foot.
  3. The total dead load of modules, supports, mountings, raceways, and all other appurtenances weigh no more than four pounds per square foot.
  4. Photovoltaic modules are not mounted higher than 18 inches above the surface of the roofing to which they are affixed.
  5. Supports for solar modules are to be installed to spread the dead load across as many roof-framing members as needed, so that no point load exceeds 50 pounds.

WSU Energy Program, WA Dept. of Commerce and NW SEED are working on a checklist that may be used by jurisdictions if they choose to.

Solar Setbacks: Doing what’s right for Washington

Solar Washington members engaged with the State Building Code Council to ensure that the new Fire Code would not be overly restrictive for rooftop solar. Read more.

Expedited Permitting: Online and Easy in Edmonds

The City of Edmonds went live with online solar permits in June 2013. Their permitting process features NW Solar Communities Best Practices:

  • Standard checklist of criteria for an expedited permit
  • Flat, low permit fee (in this case, $135)
  • Online permitting
  • Solar webpage for one-stop permitting information

Check out the City of Edmonds’ new solar webpage!