Solar Simplified for Contractors

Resources for Solar Contractors:

Permitting

Permitting Made Easy: See Solar Permitting Requirements by Jurisdiction

As with any building improvement project, solar projects require a local permit.  Unfortunately, the requirements, timing, and costs for solar permits vary significantly across jurisdictions. Solar Simplified maintains a list of permitting requirements and information for six jurisdictions that participated in the Wasatch Solar Challenge, as well as those that have requested to have their information housed on this site.

Moving towards a Standardized Solar Permit

As a means to reduce solar costs and save governments and solar customers time and energy, the Wasatch Solar Challenge, as part of the Department of Energy's Rooftop Solar Challenge, has been working with six local jurisdictions to streamline solar permitting and to move towards a single permitting form: the Solar ABC's expedited permitting form.  Two of the Wasatch Solar Challenge jurisdictions (Summit County and Park City) have already adopted the Solar ABCs expedited permit, and the remining four are currently considering its adoption.  If you work with other jurisdictions, start educating them about the benefits of adopting the standardized and simplified Model Expedited Permitting form.

Solar Training for Building Officials

Solar is new to a lot of local governments and building officials, which may mean that the solar permit process takes longer or is more costly.  If you work with local buidling officials, make them aware of the following solar code resources and free trainings:

 

 


Zoning

Solar coupleWhile solar technologies have been available for many years, widespread adoption has only taken place in the last decade as prices have fallen and more supportive policies have been enacted around the United States. Given that many Utah jurisdictions have seen few if any installations of solar, zoning ordinances may be unduly restrictive. The following resources are available to help you work with local governments to improve thier zoning ordinances and enable more solar energy:

      • Utah's Solar Access Law (UT Code 57-13 and UT Code 10-9a-610) allows any local government to pass a law or ordinance granting all citizens and businesses access to the sunshine.  While few jurisdictions utilize this authority, it does exist.  So, if you are having trouble with a Home Owners Association (HOA) or other private covenant hindering solar adoption, consider checking in with the local government to make them aware of the law and discuss ways to address the private restrictions.

     

     

      • Zoning Best Practices can set the stage for increased solar adoption - work with local jursidictions to make them aware of these best practices!
      • Solar in Historic Districts may be a challenge, depending on where you are. However, more jurisdictions are looking at way to balance sustainability goals with historic preservation goals. Salt Lake City's solar ordinance is a great example of how to balance the two objectives.  Share this ordinance with other local governments to start educating them about the potential synergies between solar and historic buildings

     

     

     

     

     

Net Metering & Interconnection

Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. Interconnection standards specify the technical, legal and procedural requirements that customers and utilities must abide by when a customer seeks to connect a renewable-energy system to the grid. Both net metering and interconnection are foundational policies for solar and have a significant impact on the economics of solar. Thanks to Utah Clean Energy and partners, Utah maintains an 'A' grade on a national score card for net metering and interconnection.  Learn more about Utah's awesome net metering law!  However, Utah's strong net metering and interconneciton rules only apply to certain utilities:

    • Rocky Mountain Power (Utah's only investor-owned utility) is the only utility in Utah required to adhere to the current net metering and interconnection rules. They have a fantastic net metering program and make it easy for contractors to connect solar to the grid.
    • Utah's Rural Electric Cooperatives can make thier own net metering rules on certain provisions (customer charges, credit for excess generation, and amount of solar allowed to connect to the grid)

If you'd like to see changes made to net metering or interconnection lawas in certain jurisdictions, start by contacting the local Board of Directors or Council to identify the appropriate process for making changes. Then, learn more about Best Practices for Net Metering & Interconnection, and contact Utah Clean Energy for guidance. 


Incentives

Incentives can help defray the up-front cost of solar installations, while financing options provide a means to spread the up-front cost of solar out over time, thereby deferring the initial investment. 

Learn More About...

 

 

 

 


 

Solar Licensing

In order to install solar in Utah, your contractors must comply with current licensing regulations.

Solar PV Licensing Requirements (from Utah Clean Energy)

Quick Facts:

The Utah S202 Solar Photovoltaic and the Utah S200 General Electrical Contractor Licenses are required to certify contractors to install photovoltaic solar in Utah. S202 Solar Photovoltaic Contractors must receive a NABCEP (North American Board of Energy Practitioners) PV Installer Certification and pass the Business/Law Exam with the State of Utah. Contractors are required to maintain General Liability Insurance (minimum of $300,000 aggregate.) Changes to S202 License Requirements were enacted by Senate Bill 208 in 2013

Solar Thermal Licensing

Quick Facts:

  • The Utah S215 Solar Thermal Systems Contractor License and the S210 General Plumbing Contractor License are required to install solar thermal.

  • The Utah S215 Solar Thermal Systems Contractor License covers the construction, repair and/or installation of solar thermal systems up to the system shut off valve or where the system interfaces with any other plumbing system.

  • The S210 General Plumbing Contractor License covers all that the S215 covers. For more information please refer to the State of Utah's regulations.

More Resources:

Green Building Certifications

There are many certifications that are available to recognize buildings that are designed to minimize impact by using resources sustainably.  Most green building certifications require energy-efficient construction to reduce energy waste, and some also require solar-ready building design. 

More Resources:

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Certification is a third party certification program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED Certifications are available for buildings of all types and sizes.  LEED Certification is available at four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. 

Solar specifications: LEED certified buildings receve points for utilizing on-site renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy's DOE Challenge Home program recognizes builders for their leadership in increasing energy efficiency, improving indoor air quality, and making homes zero net-energy ready. 

Solar specifications: In Utah, DOE Challenge Homes must meet requirements to accomodate the future installation of both solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems.

The EA Net Zero certification is designed to recognize homes that generate as much electricity as they use over the course of a year. The EA Net Zero Ready certification is for homes that are built to be “ready” for actual physical renewable systems to be built at a later date.

Solar specifications: EA Net Zero homes must generate 100% of the buildings annual energy needs from renewables; EA Net Zero Ready homes must have proper roof orientation, roof pitch, and roof area as well as EPA solar-ready compliance.

The National Association of Home Builders and the ICC partnered to establish the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard, a residential green building rating system.

Solar specifications: National Green Building certified buildings receve points for utilizing renewable energy.

The International Living Future Institute's Living Building Challenge is a green building certification program that scores buildings on seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. 

Solar specifications: Living Building Challenge certified buildings must produce 100% of the buildings net energy needs from renewables on an annual basis.

 

Guides to help commercial buildings exceed the energy code by 30% or 50%, moving the building toward net zero.

Solar specifications: Living Building Challenge certified buildings must produce 100% of the buildings net energy needs from renewables on an annual basis.

 

 


 

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Website content provided by Utah Clean Energy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to stop energy waste, create clean energy, and build a smart energy future in Utah and the western United States.