Office of Energy and Sustainable Development
Office of Energy and Sustainable Development

Solar Photovoltaic (PV)solar PV icon

Reduce before you produce. The first step in any solar PV installation is to implement conservation measures to reduce energy use. Conservation reduces expenses, greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizes the size of your PV system. For energy savings tips check the PG&E website.  

Is solar right for your building? The SmartSolar Program, operated by the local nonprofit CESC, provides free, independent advice on solar to Berkeley homeowners and businesses. The SmartSolar Program offers free solar PV assessments, recommendations, and objective analysis of bids.

What permits are required to install solar panels? Electrical permits are required for all solar PV installations. Building permits are only needed if structural work is necessary to support the solar PV system. Solar projects do not require zoning permits or design review. Please note that PG&E and the California Solar Initiative each have their own set of requirements as well!

Submittal Requirements

  • The Solar PV System Submittal Requirements provides a complete description of the plans that must be submitted in order to obtain permit(s) for solar PV systems.
  • As a member of the East Bay Green Corridor, the City of Berkeley also accepts the standardized plans and checklist from the Green Corridor for residential (1 or 2 dwelling units) solar PV installations in lieu of City permit submittal requirements.
  • All solar PV systems must meet fire safety requirements. For any questions regarding Fire Department regulations, please contact the Fire Life Safety Plans Examiner at 510-981-7447.

Application submittal and permit fees Call 510-981-7502 for an appointment to submit application materials and obtain permits for solar PV systems. Residential solar electric permits fees are set at the minimum electrical permit fee per installation with no extra charge for electrical plan check fees. Commercial and multifamily (3 or more units) are subject to electrical plan check fees. If needed, building permit and plan check fees will be based on the valuation of the structural work required.

Be solar ready. Being solar ready means that a building is designed and built to accommodate future installation of a PV and/or solar thermal system. The 2013 Energy Code (Title 24, Part 6, Section 110.10) specifies mandatory requirements for solar ready buildings applicable to hotel/motel and multifamily buildings of 10 stories or less, other nonresidential buildings of 3 stories or less, and single family homes that are part of a subdivision of 10 or more homes.

Resources & Incentives for Solar

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Office of Energy and Sustainable Development, 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7439
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
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