2014 Legislation: AB 2188 - Solar Energy Permits

Bill Author: 
Muratsuchi
Subject: 
Solar Energy Permits
Status: 
Signed by Governor.

Update: The Governor signed the bill into law on 9/21.

What AB 2188 Says

AB 2188 would expedite permits for solar panel installations. This bill requires boards to decide on applications for solar panel installations within 45 days and to notify the applicant in writing. 

From the Legislative Counsel's Digest: 

The bill would additionally require a city, county, or city and county to adopt, on or before September 30, 2015, in consultation with specified public entities an ordinance that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems, as specified. The bill would additionally require a city, county, or city and county to inspect a small residential rooftop solar energy system eligible for expedited review in a timely manner, as specified. The bill would prohibit a city, county, or city and county from conditioning the approval of any solar energy system permit on approval of that system by an association that manages a common interest development. The bill would require a solar energy system for heating water in single family residences and solar collectors for heating water in commercial or swimming pool applications to be certified by an accredited listing agency, as defined. 

AB 2188's Effects on Current Law

Current law regulates the application and approval processes for owners who ask to install solar energy systems on their residences (i.e. on areas of their property that they exclusively own or control). It overrides CC&Rs and architectural processes and standards that have the effect of “significantly” increasing the cost of applied-for systems or significantly decreasing the efficiency of an applied-for system. Depending on the type of system (heating by sunlight or photovoltaic), the term “significantly” has meant generally that an association could not insist on modifications, different locations, or alternatives to an applicant’s desired system if it increased the cost by 20% (or $2,000 for photovoltaic systems) or reduced efficiency by 20%.

As of January 1, 2015, those parameters will be further restricted, to 10%, not to exceed $1,000, and to 10% reduction in efficiency. The current $2,000 permitted for photovoltaic systems will be reduced to $1,000.

Current law requires an association to notify the applicant within 60 days after receiving the application if it is denied. AB 2188 reduces that decision period to 45 days after an application is received. Pursuant to existing law, applications for solar energy systems that are not timely responded to are deemed approved.

AB 2188 also provides that a local permitting agency cannot condition the issuance of a permit for an applicant’s system on the approval of the applicant’s association. 

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