Commercial PV Permitting



Interested in installing a commercial Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system in Palo Alto? Follow the 4 steps below to properly develop plans, submit an application for a permit, and receive approval for your commercial PV system.

Step One: Planning

Design Considerations

For PV permits approved after 9/8/17, Smart Inverters are required as described in CPAU's Rule 27.

Fire Marshal Guidelines

The City of Palo Alto has adopted the state of California's Fire Marshal Guidelines. Review the CA State Fire Marshal PV Installation Guidelines to ensure the plans for your commercial PV system comply.

If your plans do not comply, you must submit an email request for a variance from the California Fire Code setbacks, as follow:

Subject Line: "Fire PV Variance Request for <street address>
Content: Include attachments for all appropriate drawings and schematics relating to your plans

Planning Entitlement Guidelines

Consult with the City's Planning Department to determine if a separate planning entitlement application is required in advance of a building permit based on the scope of your project. This is typically required for ground mounted systems or solar awnings where new structures, such as parking lot carports, are constructed to support the new solar installation.

Step Two: Permit Application

Prepare Submittal Package

Use the Commercial PV Submittal Checklist to guide you through the permit submission requirements to prepare your application for a PV Permit.

Prepare Electric Load Sheet

You must fill out all appropriate sections of the PV Electric Load Sheet and Interconnection Agreement and submit with the Commercial PV permit application.

Customer Signs Net Energy Metering Interconnection Agreement (NEMIA)

The owner of the solar installation must sign a completed Net Energy Metering Interconnection Agreement (NEMIA) and the signed NEMIA must be turned in as part of the submittal package in order for a PV Permit to be issued.

Submit Application In Person

Commercial PV permits are to be submitted in-person to the City of Palo Alto Development Center during normal business hours.

Phone: (650) 329-2496
Address: 285 Hamilton Avenue at Bryant Street
Hours: 9 AM-4 PM, Monday - Friday

Permit Fees

To submit your application for a Commercial PV Permit in Palo Alto, you must pay the following fees during your appointment at the Development Center.

Base Fee:$117
Commercial (<49 kW) Fee:$567
Commercial (>49 kW) Fee:$761

Permit Approval

If your submission is approved, you may receive your permit within several business days. Systems larger than 10kW will require an engineering review at no charge prior to receiving a permit – this review should be completed in 10 business days or fewer. Some systems may require an engineering fee for a more in-depth review that should be completed in 45 business days or fewer. Once you have an approved permit, you may start the PV installation.

Step Three: Inspection

Review PV Inspection Guidelines

Prior to scheduling a PV inspection, review the Commercial Inspection Guidelines in order to prepare for the inspection. Call (650) 496-6978 to schedule the Palo Alto Utilities Electric Meter Shop inspection. You may be able to schedule this Utilities inspection at the same time as the final Building Dept. PV inspection by calling at least 3 work days ahead.

Schedule Inspection Appointments

1st Inspection: Building Department Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496
2nd Inspection: CPAU Electric Meter Shop Inspection: Call CPAU Electric Meter Shop at (650) 496-6978
3rd Inspection: Building Department Final PV Inspection: Call Building Department: (650) 329-2496

Step Four: Interconnection Approval

Receive Interconnection Approval

The Palo Alto Building Inspector issues the Interconnection Approval (also known as "Permission to Operate") at the final inspection. Within a couple of weeks of a successful final inspection, CPAU will sign your Interconnection Agreement and send you a fully executed copy.

Check Approval Status Online

You can view your permit status through the online permit system, ACCELA. To view your project's status, follow the steps below:

  • Visit the ACCELA Webpage
  • Select "Building" from top menu
  • Enter address or permit number into search boxes
  • Select the link for the relevant PV Permit number
  • Select "Records Info" tab, then "Inspections", and look for the approval date for inspection code "703 Photovoltaic Final"


Permitting, Interconnection Approval Questions
Contact: City of Palo Alto Development Center
Phone: (650) 329-2496

Net Metering and Interconnection Agreements
Contact: Utility Project Coordinator - Development Services
Phone: (650) 617-3106