On February 15, 2012, the Department of Energy awarded the City of San Antonio’s – Office of Sustainability $313,217.00, to be the lead for the “Texas Solar Collaboration”, a consortium of Cities comprising of the Cities of Austin and Houston for a one-year project.
The primary purpose of this project is to make the installation of solar photovoltaics (PV) easier, faster, and cheaper for homeowners and businesses by developing and implementing streamlined and standardized processes that will dramatically improve local solar market conditions.
One major milestone of this project was launched by the City’s Development Services Department. The conventional way of applying for a residential permit was by submitting an in-person paper application to Development Services during City business hours.
The Development Services Department has expedited the process for solar permitting and eliminating customer travel time to the DBS Center by adding residential Solar Permits to its on-line permitting system.
As of today 62% of all permits are issued on-line. Of those online permits, 78% are electrical, mechanical and plumbing trade permits.
Now solar installers can apply for their solar permits on-line and e-mail their plans to Development Services for review. Once the solar installers’ plans are approved, they can go on-line to pay their permit fees and schedule their inspections. This new way of doing business saves these solar installer time and money. Solar installers will also save Travel Time and Vehicle miles with the new online system. If all of the solar permits in 2012 were done online, it would have saved 45 hours in travel time equating to 1,400 vehicle miles.