The permitting and inspection of clean energy systems, including solar PV and energy storage, is a critical part of the development process, helping to ensure that installed systems are safe and of high quality. However, when there is confusion about how to interpret particular codes, it can significantly slow down the process and create more work for local officials and project developers. 

SEAC’s diverse membership, representing all clean energy stakeholders, works collaboratively to identify issues in existing codes like the International Building Code, the International Fire Code, and the International Residential Code. From there, SEAC’s expert members use a consensus process to develop practical solutions to these challenges. SEAC actively participates in the code making process to recommend solutions when it finds that changes are needed to the language of a specific code. 

SEAC also develops solutions to other related barriers, such as lack of awareness of code requirements or existing educational resources that can help clarify code requirements. 

This site houses many clean energy permitting and inspection resources, including: 

Checklists for Permitting and Inspection

National Simplified Residential PV and Energy Storage Permit Guidelines

This is an updated version of the national Simplified Permit Guidelines for residential solar, including new guidance on permitting for residential battery storage. These state-of-the-art guidelines are intended to help local governments develop an efficient and streamlined permit process for typical solar PV and storage projects. They will allow communities to reduce unnecessary delays and cost while ensuring compliance with nationally recognized safety standards.

National Simplified Residential PV and Energy Storage Inspection Guidelines

These guidelines are intended to complement the National Simplified Residential PV and Energy Storage Permit Guidelines. The information in these guidelines is intended to provide a format whereby local jurisdictions and contractors can inspect simple photovoltaic (PV) system and energy storage system (ESS) installations where only a basic review is necessary.

Considerations for Continuing Permitting and Inspection Activities During COVID-19 

Information for AHJs to consider for No-Touch Permitting and Remote Inspection practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Download the PDF of SEAC’s recommendations here, or watch the recording of our April 2020 webinar discussing No-Touch Permitting and Remote Video Inspection

Clarifying Code Requirements for Elevated PV Support Structures (also called Solar Shade Structures or Solar Carports)

The Solar Shade Structures Working Group is developing solutions to a lack of clarity in the code requirements for solar shade structures (elevated structures with solar panels on them, often covering parking lots and referred to as solar carports) are not clear. Read its recommendations here: 

  • Elevated PV Support Structures – SEAC recommendation to the International Code Council (ICC) to improve the clarity of code requirements in the 2021 International Building Code for overhead photovoltaic (PV) support structures, also referred to as solar shade structures, which are commonly constructed over vehicle parking spaces.
  • Rooftop-mounted PV Panel Systems – SEAC recommendation to the International Code Council (ICC) to to provide exceptions in the 2021 International Building Code that clarify that elevated PV support structures can be installed on top of a multi-story parking garage under certain conditions without impacting restrictions on number of stories, height or area. Likewise, it is recommended that under certain conditions, rooftop-mounted PV systems do not cause a building to be noncompliant with these provisions.

How to Handle Solar Permits for Sites with Outstanding Code Enforcement Issues

The Unpermitted Structures Working Group is developing recommendations for situations when issuing a solar permit may be justified despite other unresolved code enforcement issues, such as unpermitted structures or expired building permits.

Providing Clarity in the National Electrical Code  

Additionally, the National Electrical Code (NEC) Working Group is contributing to revisions to the National Electrical Code with a focus on sustainable energy issues. Some of these revisions may relate to solar energy. Related resources include: 

Fire Detection Requirements for Energy Storage

The Storage Fire Detection Working Group is addressing the fact that new codes require a heat detector in garages with ESS, but there is confusion about which products are available to meet this requirement, how the installation must be done, and which standards apply. The group is working to develop a recommendation for how AHJs and installers can address the problem in the short-term. Read its recommendations here: 

 ESS Standards

AHJs and installers are interpreting some ESS standards differently. The ESS Standards Working Group is investigating ESS Standards that are resulting in different interpretations and making recommendations on how to address the issues.

Related resources:

Other Helpful Resources

(These links lead to external content on third-party websites.)