City of Vacaville Launches Instant Solar Permitting

A new state law requires cities to take steps to speed up the permitting process for solar energy systems.

3 minute read

September 6, 2023, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View of red tiled rooftops with solar panels and tall palm trees between houses

Jason / Adobe Stock

The City of Vacaville recently announced the launch of instant permits for residential solar and battery storage systems. This public-facing permitting experience performs instant regulatory checks, automatically verifies contractor licenses, and enables the issuance of residential solar and energy storage permits instantly.  This milestone was initially driven by California’s SB 379 solar permitting mandate. 

About  SB 379

SB 379 is a recent California law that requires most California cities and counties to implement a platform that checks for code compliance and automates the issuance of permits for residential solar energy and storage systems. Such mandates to streamline the permitting of decarbonization projects are likely to proliferate as California and other States strive to meet the United States’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035.  

Benefits of instant solar permits

The automatic analysis of code compliance requirements and instant permit issuance not only ensures that every application meets the necessary safety and regulatory standards, decreases costs for homeowners and permit applicants, and increases the speed of solar installations. It will also help Vacaville residents decrease their energy emissions, which, in turn, will assist the City in achieving its Energy and Conservation Action Strategy goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to approximately 50% below 1990 equivalent emissions by 2035. 

The City of Vacaville’s Director of Community Development, Erin Morris, expressed enthusiasm for the launch, stating, “We are thrilled to introduce this state-of-the-art online platform for our customers, which marks a significant step towards promoting renewable energy adoption and enhancing the ease of doing business in Vacaville. Our partnership with Symbium shows a commitment towards the City’s vision of providing excellence and innovation in customer service and advances several City Council’s strategic goals and initiatives such as strengthening the local economy and maintaining effective and efficient services. Symbium made the adoption of their well-designed platform easy and without requiring much staff time, even as the team integrated with our permit tracking system and customized the platform to respond to our local processes and code requirements.”

Vacaville will comply with California’s SB379 solar permitting mandate with the launch of this online platform, and Vacaville positions itself as a leader in fostering renewable energy adoption while prioritizing efficiency, safety, and sustainability. This initiative sets the stage for continued growth in the residential solar and battery storage sector, benefitting both the community and the environment. 

A public-private partnership

To achieve the capacity to drive more permitting volume and process more regulatory reviews while alleviating permitting staff time, Vacaville engaged Symbium, whose technology translates complex laws and regulations into simple workflows. By using the platform, Vacaville has automated code compliance in real-time and the issuance of solar and energy storage permits, lowering the costs for permit applicants and homeowners and increasing the speed of installing residential solar energy systems in the City. Nine other California jurisdictions that have also signed on for the solar permitting pilot will be announcing similar partnerships in the coming months.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023 in Symbium

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