Residential PV Permitting

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Overview

Interested in installing a residential 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 residential PV system. Visit the commercial PV Permitting page to learn more about PV installations at commercial sites. If you're interested in installing battery storage, the permitting process is similar to the PV permitting process outlined here. In lieu of the Small or Large Submittal package, refer to the City's Energy Storage Systems Submittal Guidelines.

Step One: Planning

Design Considerations

The City of Palo Alto has put together a reference guide that provides basic design considerations for the installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems. Click to view: Basic Design Considerations for Residential Solar PV Systems

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 residential 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:

Email:To:fire@cityofpaloalto.org, CC:james.henrikson@cityofpaloalto.org
Subject Line: "Fire PV Variance Request for <street address>
Content: Include attachments for all appropriate drawings and schematics relating to your plans

Complete Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Review

If your project is small in size and capacity, you may be eligible for the Expedited Review process. Use the Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Review to determine whether your project is eligible.

Step Two: Permit Application

Prepare Submittal Package

Use the appropriate Submittal Checklist to guide you through the permit submission requirements for your project, in order to prepare your application for a PV Permit.

Small Residential: 
Submittal Package for Simplified Central/String Inverter Systems
Submittal Package for Microinverter and AC Modules

Large Residential:
All other installation types (projects over 10kW, supply-side interconnections, or systems with batteries), must use the following: Palo Alto Residential PV Submittal Checklist

Prepare Electric Load Sheet

You must fill out all appropriate sections of the PV Electric Load SheetandInterconnection Agreement and submit with the Residential PV permit application.

Customer Signs the 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

Residential PV permits are to be submitted in-person to the City of Palo Alto Development Center. You may submit over the counter, or schedule an appointment.

Email: PV.appointments@cityofpaloalto.org
Phone: (650) 329-2496
Address: 285 Hamilton Avenue at Bryant Street

Permit Fees

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

Base Fee: $117
Residential (<10 kW) Fee: $168
Residential (>10 kW) Fee: $333

Interconnection:$123

Permit Approval

If your submission is approved, you may receive your permit the same day (often for small residential) or within several business days. Large residential systems (projects over 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. Once you have an approved permit, you may start your PV installation.

Step Three: Inspection

Review PV Inspection Guidelines

Prior to scheduling a PV inspection, review the relevant PV Inspection Guidelines in order to prepare for the inspection.

Small Residential (<10 kW) Inspection Guidelines
Large Residential (>10 kW) Inspection Guidelines

Schedule Inspection Appointments

Small Residential:

CPAU Electric Meter Shop Inspection: Call CPAU Electric Meter Shop at (650) 496-6978
Building Department Final PV Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496

Large Residential:

Building Department Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496
CPAU Electric Meter Shop Inspection: Call CPAU Electric Meter Shop at (650) 496-6978
Building Department Final PV Inspection: Call Building Department at (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 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"