Vote clears Miami-Dade County for solar Gold status

By Ben Delman on May 9, 2019
Solar supporter Sharon Van Smith testifies in support of improved solar permitting.

Last week, the Miami Dade County Commission Board unanimously voted to allow rooftop solar installations as an accessory use in all zoning categories. This is a final legislative step for the county to adopt the highest, “Gold”, solar permitting standards through the Department of Energy’s SolSmart program.

This victory is the culmination of many months of work. In September of last year, County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to adopt a more streamlined permitting process for solar. This bill instructed the county to undertake a study to determine the steps it needed to take to achieve Gold status. Miami-Dade currently follows SolSmart’s lowest-level “Bronze” standards. The Gold designation requires a streamlined permitting pathway for small solar systems with a turn-around of no more than three days.

This legislation was initially sponsored by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava with Commissioner Eileen Higgins signed on as a co-sponsor. When it was presented by Commissioner Cava at the Infrastructure and Capital Improvements Committee, the remainder of the committee, comprised of Barbara J. Jordan, Joe A. Martinez, Jean Monestime and Rebecca Sosa, signed on unanimously as co-sponsors.

If all proceeds to plan, Miami-Dade will become the first South Florida county to obtain Gold Status. Orange County was the first county in the state to do so. Other local Florida cities that have Gold are: Boynton Beach, Lanta, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Satellite Beach.

Solar permitting is under the jurisdiction of municipalities in Miami-Dade County, so this resolution will only impact homeowners who live in the unincorporated areas of the county. Currently, South Miami and Miami Beach are at the Bronze level. Pinecrest has achieved Silver status. A SolSmart Advisor is to be placed with the South Florida Regional Council this fall. This should encourage more cities to improve their processes and make obtainable solar easier for homeowners.