MAG Approves Solar Permitting Standards

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Building Codes Committee approved passage of a MAG standard for securing permits for grid-connected residential and commercial photovoltaic power systems. At its May 15 meeting, building officials from 17 jurisdictions in Maricopa County adopted the measure that provides uniformity through participating MAG jurisdictions.

PHOENIX, Arizona – May 20, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] “It helps streamline the permit process,” said committee member Anthony Floyd. Floyd, representing the City of Scottsdale, introduced the standard at the committee’s March 20, 2002 meeting. “The standard only addresses permit submittal requirements for the solar system installation, plans, diagrams, applicable warnings and signage,” Floyd said. “It does not affect local planning and zoning regulations involving such requirements as setback, height limitations, color, reflectivity or other design considerations.” Sean Seitz, President of American Solar Electric, spoke on behalf of the industry at the March meeting. Seitz said the industry worked with the committee to develop a standard that addressed all concerns. Seitz pointed out that there are both economical and environmental benefits to solar energy which are leading to increased popularity for the technology and the need for the standard. “With various incentive programs from the state and utility companies, the industry anticipates a significant increase in PV permit applications across the valley,” Seitz said. “There is a state income tax credit for residential solar installations and new utility-sponsored programs are coming on-line as a result of the Environmental Portfolio Standard.” The Environmental Portfolio Standard (EPS), adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission in May 2000, requires that investor-owned utilities derive a portion of their electricity through renewable sources. “We anticipate photovoltaic power to become more cost competitive with other energy sources and become more widespread as demand increases and costs drop due to increased production capacity and competition. The current demand for photovoltaic equipment in Arizona is one of the strongest in the United States,” Seitz said. Floyd said the expected demand and lack of established policies within jurisdictions around the valley were motivating factors in the adoption of the standard at this time “Since there is little jurisdictional experience in this area, the intent of this standard is to address permit issues before they become a problem by establishing uniform submittal standards for photovoltaic installations,” he said.

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