Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Permits
Please Note: Due to the high volume, applications for Solar Permits submitted after November 23rd, 2020 may not be issued prior to January 2021.
All residential and commercial roof mounted systems are now accepted in the ePermits Center, our online permitting website. Upon login, the applicant will create the solar permit number and will be required to upload all required documents. Upon successful creation of a permit number, the system will alert the solar team that a permit has been created and staff will conduct an initial review.
Applicants for PV permits are encouraged to thoroughly read through this page to understand what is required for a successful submission. Incomplete applications are the primary cause of delays – please see Common Submittal Errors at the bottom of this page to learn more.
Solar permits are reviewed for the following:
- Non-Structural Review – review the site and roof array plans for parcel information, confirming legality of the structure(s) receiving a roof mount solar array and verifying all fire access pathways and ridge setbacks are drawn to minimum code requirements.
- Structural Review – review the anchorage and mounting details of panels to confirm minimum code requirements for critical structural load factors.
- Electrical Review – review the single line diagram and manufacturer’s specifications for confirming minimum code requirements for system components and electrical load factors.
Once the reviews are complete, the permit will be issued after fees are collected.
Current time for permit issuance from date of successful assignment*: 2 – 4 weeks
*Note: a date of assignment is considered the day on which the permit was put into review. Successfully creating a permit number and uploading documents is not considered the day of assignment, especially if plans are found to be incomplete or incorrect upon the initial review.
Requirements for Residential & Commercial Roof Mount Solar Systems
Solar Permit Scope:
- The Solar review team only checks for the minimum required scope: system size (DC) and the number of roof mounted panels. It is the responsibility of the applicant to list all system components and any energy storage systems upon creation of the permit. Some applicants are experiencing rejection by the utility provider after the permit has been finaled due to an insufficient scope of work. Please verify with the utility provider prior to permit submittal. Permits that receive an approved, final inspection become locked and the Solar team cannot reprint permit cards.
- If the listed scope is insufficient for your needs, the applicant shall email the solar team to request any additional scope PRIOR to permit issuance.
Solar Plan Requirements:
Systems with arrays that are no more than 10 inches above the roof surface and installed on the load side of the utility equipment distribution are considered flush, roof mounted systems.
At minimum, each solar photovoltaic submission requires: a site plan, an electrical single line diagram (SLD), structural details, manufacturer’s specifications, and the electrical labels page. For a complete list of requirements, the Building Department has created the following guides:
- Electronic Permit Submittal Guidelines – This guide provides the requirements for the building department’s current electronic plan submittal requirements.
- Inspection Guide for Residential PV Permits (PDF) – This guide provides information on the criteria for successful inspections.
Required files for each submittal:
Each permit created shall have the following documents uploaded immediately upon the successful creation of a solar permit:
- Complete set of digital plans - Follow the digital plan formatting guidelines at the end of this page.
- PV System Checklist (PDF)
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the documents comply with the building department’s guidelines. Permits that do not have documents uploaded will not receive notification other than the initial autoreply alerting the applicant to upload required documents.
NOTE: if plans must be altered and resubmitted due to design changes or as a response to comments from reviewers, the entire plan set will need to be uploaded as one file containing the updated sheets.
Plan Templates for Residential Roof Mount Systems
For applicants who do not have their own standard plans for systems up to 10kW, we have plan templates available:
- Central/String Inverter System Standard Plan Template (PDF)
- Microinverter and AC Module System Standard Plan Template (PDF)
Photovoltaic projects with Solar tiles will require an additional re-roof permit. Follow the roof mounted solar instructions above as the requirements for solar tiles are the same and submitted the same way. The applicant can choose to create the re-roof permit on the ePermits Center or can submit an application through Permits by Email (for the re-roof permit only).
Please note: Re-roof permits in climate zone 12 will require the additional Title 24 energy form. Re-roof permits are required per structure – if one system of solar tiles will be installed on both a primary residence and a detached garage, for example, two re-roof permits will need to be pulled.
Ground Mounted Systems and Solar Canopies for Residential or Commercial applications:
Currently ground mounted systems, systems with solar canopies or systems proposed on new structures cannot be processed through ePermits.
Please visit our Applying for a Building or Grading Permit page for information on the permit requirements and approvals you will need to have from other agencies prior to submittal as well as the Permits By Email application link.
Required files for each submittal:
- Complete set of digital plans - Follow the digital plan formatting requirements section at the end of this page
- PV System Checklist (PDF) for non-expedited residential projects
- Planning approval
- Sanitary District / Environmental Health Department (septic) approval
Planning Department Considerations
The following incorporated Cities will require review for the following prior to permit submittal:
- City of Clayton: All Commercial projects, ground mounted systems or systems with solar canopies require review. Any residential system that is over 10KW in size. Any system that is not flush mounted (over 10 inches from roof surface). Solar tiles with a re-roof of more than 1000 sqft (10 squares). Please contact the City of Clayton for more information: 925-673-7300
- City of Hercules: All commercial projects, ground mounted systems or systems with solar canopies require review. Any system that is not flush mounted (over 10 inches from roof surface). Please contact the City of Hercules for more information925-799-8244
- City of Lafayette: All commercial projects, ground mounted systems or systems with solar canopies require review. Any system that is not flush mounted (over 10 inches from roof surface). Please contact the City of Lafayette for more information: 925-284-1976
- Town of Moraga: All Commercial projects, ground mounted systems or systems with solar canopies require review. Any residential system that is over 10KW in size. Any system that is not flush mounted (over 10 inches from roof surface). Solar tiles with a re-roof of more than 1000 sqft (10 squares). Please contact the Town of Moraga for more information: 925-888-7040
- City of Orinda: All commercial projects, ground mounted systems or systems with solar canopies require review. Any system that is not flush mounted (over 10 inches from roof surface). Solar tiles with a re-roof of more than 1000 sqft (10 squares). Please contact the City of Orinda for more information: 925-253-4210
The unincorporated areas of the County have no limit on kW size and only require planning review for ground mounted systems, systems with solar canopies or systems proposed on structures that may not be legal/permitted.
For permits that were created through the ePermits Center and are not yet issued, revisions are to be uploaded directly to the permit. The system will alert the solar team that a revision has been uploaded and they will conduct the initial review.
If time for your project is critical, please be sure to follow the following protocols for revisions:
- Revisions must be clearly described and clouded/bubbled on the required sheets for the revision
- Only upload the sheets that contain the revision: revisions containing a full plan set will go through all 3 phases of review by default. If the revision is only to the structural, electrical or non-structural reviewers, only provide those plan sheets.
- Revisions have the same review time as original submittals, please factor this time frame into your project.
- Do not schedule a final inspection if the project has a revision in review. Revised plans must be on site for the final review. Any project that is finaled prior to the revision’s issuance will be locked and the scope cannot be adjusted. A new permit will need to be issued if the revision’s scope is required for the finaled permit’s scope. Additional fees may apply.
For revision to permits that were created in person:
- Please email the solar team with the revised drawings and a copy of the original field set that was issued. (can they upload to a permit created in person?)
- If the original field set is lost or unavailable, please conduct a record research request to retrieve a copy of the original field set.
- If the research cannot find the original field set, the applicant will need to re-submit the original field set in full along with the revisions. Additional fees will be assessed and a new permit may be issued.
Permit Status Checks
At any time after the permit number is created, the applicant can check the status of their permit on the ePermits Center in real time.
It is critical that applicant’s respond to plan check comments as soon as possible. Prior to emailing the solar team or calling our general line to inquire about a solar permit, please check the following:
- Plans and checklist have been uploaded
- Plans have been formatted correctly
- Plans include all required information
- Checklist is completed and signed appropriately
- Any required response has been made
The solar team responds to emails in the order received and due to periodic heavy volumes of permit requests, the team may not be able to respond to your email the same day a request is sent.
If more than 4 weeks pass and the permit shows no movement, please call our general line and a staff member will assist you. Due to the current volume of permit requests and questions, please leave a message if you reach our voicemail and staff will return your call in 24-48 hours.
Parcels with Conditions/Notices
Solar permits cannot be created for parcels that contain an active code enforcement case with a Notice to Comply (NTC). The NTC must be complied and all necessary fees paid prior to any issuance of permits, solar or otherwise, on the parcel. If the applicant needs more information about a parcel with an NTC, please contact the code enforcement officer on the case or call the Code Enforcement Department to learn who the enforcement officer is: 925-674-7210
For historic districts within the unincorporated County, the planning department has a notice that limits the ability to pull permits on parcels without review. Please call our general line or email the solar department if you would like to apply for a solar permit on a parcel located within the historic districts of unincorporated county.
For any other notice or hold that prevents the ability to create a permit, please email us with the parcel number and address you are attempting to apply for a permit.
Expired Permits/Copy of Plans
Permits will expire 365 days from the date of issue without approval of a required inspection or if 180 days lapse between approved required inspections. If the permit expires before work is completed and/or inspected, no additional work shall be performed until a new permit is obtained. Under California Law, uninspected work is a property defect and must be disclosed to the next owner prior to transfer of title.
- If you would like to renew your expired permit(s), please call our general line at 925-674-7200 or email the solar team.
- If you would like to request an extension prior to your date of expiration, please fill out the online permit extension request form.
Please note: it is the applicant's responsibility to provide a copy of the County approved field set of plans at each inspection. Failure to do so may result in a re-inspection fee. If the original field set is lost or unavailable, please conduct a record research request to retrieve a copy of the original field set.
Common Submittal Errors
The following common errors in permit submittals have been identified by the solar team as causing the most delays. If time is a critical component of your project, please make sure you do not commit any of the following errors in your submittal:
- Incorrectly formatted plans
- Plans sent in multiple files
- Plans are secured or password protected due to applicant's engineer stamp/signature
- Plans missing the required 3.5x6 inch space for County stamps
- Plans missing clearly labeled fire access pathways and horizontal ridge setbacks
- Plans missing the Single Line Diagram
- Plans missing manufacturer’s cut sheets
- Plans missing structural details – mounting, anchorage and profile view with dimensions
- Plans containing images in lieu of drawn plans
- Plans missing ridge setback square footage calculations
- Incomplete checklist
Digital Plan Formatting Requirements
- Provide one multi-page PDF file
- 11x17 minimum page size, landscape orientation for residential roof mounted systems
- 24 x 36 minimum page size, landscape orientation for ground mounted or commercial roof mounted systems
- Drawings must be generated from drafting software (no scanned files)
- Drawings must be drawn to scale
- Each plan page must have an empty column 3.5-inch wide x 6 inches tall on the right side of plan pages to allow for county stamps
- File must be unsecured to allow for approval stamps and comments
- File must be named as follows: 123 Street Name – Plans
- File size maximum is 100MB