Kurt Newick's Comments

November 12, 2012

One Man's Fight To Cut California Solar Permitting Fees

It is important that solar installers come together and use a common set of standardized plans when submitting PV permits to the jurisdictions. The reason is it will be fast, accurate and inexpensive to issue solar permits if what is being reviewed has a consistent format!

A version of Solar American Board of Codes and Standards wiring diagram to standardize the documentation of the technical electrical specs for the PV permit submittal is downloadable from: www.SolarPermitFees.org/PVPermitGuidelines2010-07TUCC.pdf

Expedited process for PV systems: Solar America Board for Codes and Standards documents about an expedited process for PV system permits under 15kW in size: www.solarabcs.org/permitting

June 30, 2011

Small Government Spells Big Trouble for Renewables

Hi, my name is Kurt Newick and I am the one leading the PV Permit Fee Campaign at the Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter and other chapters in California that is tackling hundreds of cities and counties with high solar permit fees in California. We are surveying each city (county by county) writing reports, news releases and contacting the cities with high fees and requesting that these unreasonable PV permit fees be reviewed and lowered to fair levels. I've been doing this as a volunteer for 6 years now. Here is our main web site: www.solarpermitfees.org, that has details for many counties in California (on residential and commercial PV permit fees and recommendations on computing PV permit fees for cost recovery in the reports we've written).

California's municipalities are responsive to make changes to solar permit fee schedules. We are getting lots of ink in some of the local newspapers that helps to keep this in the public eye. It is shocking every time we do another county I am blown away by the huge variance between permit fees for PV projects! 'Basing fees on the value of the solar equipment inflates permit costs to unreasonably high levels, especially for larger, more expensive solar power projects,' our reports say. 'To recover costs, therefore, permit fees should be based on specific review times and billable hourly rates and not on PV project valuations.'

A recent study has been done for all 89 jurisdictions in Los Angeles County. Web site for Los Angeles County PV permit fee report (published April 2011, updated 6/18/2011): http://www.solarpermitfees.org/losangeles.html

In April 2011 the city of Napa, CA. adopted our Sierra Club recommendations on solar permit fee calculation methodologies for residential and commercial projects: View city of Napa resolution/staff report: www.solarpermitfees.org/NapaPVFeeResolutionApril2011.pdf

PV Permit Fee Campaign Methods: http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/global_warming/PV_Permit_Campaign_Methodology.htm

March 05, 2008

Excessive Permit Fees Hinder Renewable Energy Development

In the San Francisco Bay area we (I lead an effort of Sierra Club volunteers) did a solar permit fee study and campaign and got 70 jurisdictions to lower solar electric permit fees, see: http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/global_warming/fee_study.htmRecently SolarTech (a regional group of solar advocates in the San Jose, California) has created a standard solar permit technical standard submittal recommendation. We are working with the local building officlals to get this adopted as a standard in solar permit submittals.  See:  http://www.solartech.org/ Look for standard permit form with instructions under Permitting Information at the above web site (lower left corner).  For more info on solar permit standards contact Kurt Newick at KurtNewick@yahoo.com or 408-370-9636.

August 08, 2006

Solar Panel Fees Vary Across Cities

Below is a web site that documents the work we are doing at the Sierra Club to lower solar permit fees. We have had good results to date (over a dozen cities have lowered the fees for solar power)! This web site has info that makes it easy for anybody to do the same thing in their community (sample letters to City managers, and a recipe on how to lower solar permit fees). I am leading an effort to take on all permitting authorities with high solar fees in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area. If you want to help, send me an email at: KurtNewick@yahoo.com. Here is our web site:


July 28, 2006

After Public Pressure, Bay Area Solar Permit Fees Lowered

Solar Permit Fee Study: "The study's goal is persuade city governments with high permit fees and long processing times to look at what the more progressive towns in our area are doing for solar power," said study author Carl Mills. "This study is an extension of one published last September by the Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter. As a result of that study and the follow up campaign, the average solar permit fee in the counties that Loma Prieta surveyed fell from $652 to $390. With this latest study, we hope to have as much success in the North and East Bay communities." The Sierra Club formally contacted dozens of city officials last week to encourage their governments to review solar permit fees. For more information about the campaign to reduce solar permit fees, see:

Kurt Newick

Kurt Newick

Kurt Newick works as a Solar System Designer (in sales), at Cobalt Power in Mountain View, California. Cobalt Power is a licensed CA solar power contractor installing photovoltaic systems. Over a 3 year period between 1987 and 1990, as...

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