Now that the 2016 elections are over, California once again has a supermajority of Democrats in both houses and many expect that fighting climate change will be on the agenda. While solar companies may look forward to lower regulatory burdens, many are still adjusting to changes under AB 2188, which amended California's Solar Rights Act and the Solar Shade Control Act.
As amended, the Solar Rights Act now requires:
- Every city, county, or city and county shall, in consultation with the local fire department or district and the utility director, where a city, county, or city and county operate utility, adopt an ordinance that creates an expedited, streamlined permitting process for small residential rooftop solar energy systems. (Gov. Code § 65850.5(g)(1).)
- Every city, county, or city and county shall adopt a checklist of all requirements with which small rooftop solar energy systems shall comply to be eligible for expedited review. (Gov. Code § 65850.5(g)(1).)
- The expedited, streamlined permitting process and checklist must "substantially conform" to the recommendations for expedited permitting, including the checklists and standard plans contained in the most current version of the California Solar Permitting Guidebook and adopted by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research.(Gov. Code § 65850.5(g)(2).)
The key here is the "substantial conformance" language. Though model ordinances are available, the statute permits local governments to draft their own ordinances. This means that solar companies installing residential rooftop solar may be forced to comply with different rules and regulations in which they do business, which can raise costs, delay installations, and affect the bottom-line. Particularly where governmental ordinances have gone from "substantial conformance" to non-coming road-block, solar companies would be well-served to seek advice on ways to overcome these obstacles and continue to grow their companies.