Solar supporters urge Miami-Dade County to speed up permitting process

By Ben Delman on June 3, 2018

Solar is booming in Miami-Dade County. Solar supporters are working to ensure this continues by urging County Commissioners and Miami-Dade County‘s Permitting Department to improve its approval process. This reform will enable more Miami-Dade County homeowners to go solar and help grow the solar industry. The current permitting process for residential solar installations in Miami-Dade County is perceived as too complicated, takes too long and drives up costs. Instead of taking a few days, permits for solar are sometimes taking months.

The hardware costs of going solar only represent about one-third of the total cost of a residential solar project. The non-hardware (or “soft”) expenses include the cost of permitting, inspections, and interconnection.

Solar supporters are urging Miami-Dade to adopt the “Gold” solar permitting guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SolSmart program. The County currently follows SolSmart’s lowest-level “Bronze” standards. The Gold designation would require a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems with a turn-around of no more than three days.

Supporting the effort is Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. “It’s critical that we do everything possible to make our communities more resilient,” says Levine Cava.  “When we give residents the ability to power their homes with sunshine, we also grow our local economy. “Going for the Gold” means we streamline the permitting process so more people and the community can benefit. We want to be leaders in putting sunshine to work in the Sunshine State.”

The Solsmart program provides free technical assistance to help local governments achieve their goals. Boynton Beach, Lantana, Orlando, Satellite Beach, and West Palm Beach, have adopted the Gold standard.

“The clean energy economy is the greatest economic and job creation opportunity for cities in the 21st century,” said Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability for the City of Orlando. “The SolSmart program provides an excellent framework for how cities can be “open for solar business” and work to reduce the soft costs of installing solar for businesses and residents. SolSmart has guided the City of Orlando to improve our planning, permitting, and inspection processes, and as a result, have been designated as a SolSmart Gold certified City.”