Small-scale solar is easy. You can set up a small standalone PV panel and its battery storage just about anywhere you like, and pick it up and move it anytime you please, in order to get more solar gain or to placate a picky neighbor.
Installing a larger PV system, however, is altogether more complex. Aside from the much greater financial commitment and the added technical aspects inherent in a residential-sized solar electric system, navigating the confusing bureaucratic waters of permitting can be quite mystifying.
But a new community-based database and website aims to change some of that, by scoring the solar permitting practices in municipalities across the US, and helping permitting staff and local leaders to learn how to put 'best practices' in place in their local agencies.
The public can search the Project Permit interactive solar permitting map to see where their city or county falls in terms of the solar permit process, and if their local area comes up short on the scorecard, they can take action to help improve it. The community-sourced information on each locale can be downloaded for easy sharing, and users are encouraged to help fill in the blanks with data for any municipalities that aren't on the map yet.
Project Permit has a "Simplifying Solar Permitting" document that can be easily personalized and then sent on to the local mayor or other governing body, which could help to educate and encourage them to adopt residential solar permitting best practices, as developed by Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
The site also offers other resources and links for local organizations, including groups that are working to reduce the time and cost involved in gaining permits for solar installations across the U.S.
Currently, the site is in beta, and unless you live in a fairly populated area, the map probably doesn't have any data specific to your location. But that's where you come in, because you're now going to submit the data on your local solar permitting process, right?