Overview

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.


Review the State's Fire Marshal PV Installation Guidelines

 

Consult with the City Planning Department to determine if a planning application is required prior to a permit. 

Complete the Commercial PV Submittal Package

Complete the PV Electric Load Sheet

 

Complete the Interconnection Agreement

 

Submit a permit in person at the City's Development Center

Submit permit application and pay permit fee. If approved, receive permit & begin installation


Review Commercial PV Inspection Checklist

Schedule inspections with City of Palo Alto Utilities Electric Meter Shop and Palo Alto Building Department

Host City inspectors for on-site inspections









If inspections are successful, receive Interconnection Approval for your commercial PV system at Final Inspection by Building Department

After a successful Final Inspection, you will be sent your fully-executed Interconnection Agreement.

Check status of approval process online through ACCELA

Questions? Contact City of Palo Alto Utilities or Development Services

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READ MORE about Planning
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READ MORE about Permit Application
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READ MORE about Inspection
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READ MORE about Approval



More on Each Step

Follow the 4 steps below to properly install and receive approval for a commercial PV system in Palo Alto.


a. Design Considerations

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

b. 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:

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

 

c. 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. 





a. 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.

b. 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.

 

c. 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. 

d. 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

e. 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
Interconnection: $123

e. 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.





a. 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.

b. 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




a. 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.

b. 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"

c. Contacts

Permitting, Interconnection Approval Questions
CONTACT: City of Palo Alto Development Center
EMAIL: PV.Appointments@cityofpaloalto.org
PHONE: (650) 329-2496

Net Metering and Interconnection Agreements
CONTACT: Utility Project Coordinator - Development Services
EMAIL: Utilities.engineering@cityofpalaoalto.org
PHONE: (650) 617-3106