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SB-379 Residential solar energy systems: permitting.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 01/12/2022 09:00 PM
SB379:v94#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  January 12, 2022
Amended  IN  Senate  January 03, 2022
Amended  IN  Senate  May 04, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  April 08, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 07, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 379


Introduced by Senator Wiener

February 10, 2021


An act to add Section 65850.52 to the Government Code, relating to land use.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 379, as amended, Wiener. Residential solar energy systems: permitting.
Existing law requires a city or county to approve administratively applications to install solar energy systems through the issuance of a building permit or similar nondiscretionary permit. Existing law requires every city, county, or city and county to develop a streamlined permitting process for the installation of small residential rooftop solar energy systems, as that term is defined. Existing law prescribes and limits permit fees that a city or county may charge for a residential and commercial solar energy system. Existing law creates the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission) in the Natural Resources Agency and prescribes its duties, which include administering programs for the installation of solar energy systems.
This bill would require every city, county, or city and county to implement an online, automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and instantaneously issues permits in real time for a solar energy system system, as defined, that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating and an energy storage system system, as defined, paired with a solar energy system that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating. The bill would require a city, county, or city and county to amend a certain ordinance to authorize a residential solar energy system and an energy storage system to use the online, automated permitting platform.
This bill would prescribe a compliance schedule for satisfying these requirements, which would exempt a city with a population of fewer than 5,000 and a county with a population of fewer than 150,000 and all cities within a county with a population of fewer than 150,000. 150,000, including each city within that county. The bill would require a city with a population of 50,000 or fewer that is not otherwise exempt to satisfy these requirements by September 30, 2024, while cities and counties with populations greater than 50,000 that are not otherwise exempt would be required to satisfy the requirements by September 30, 2023. The bill would require a city, county, or city and county, or a fire department, district, or authority, to report to the Energy Commission when it is in compliance with specified requirements, in addition to other information. The bill would require cities and counties to self-certify their compliance with the bill’s provisions when applying for specified funds from the Energy Commission. Commission, as specified.
This bill would, upon provision of sufficient funding, authorize the Energy Commission to provide technical assistance and grant funding to cities and counties in order to support the above-described requirements. The bill would require the Energy Commission to set guidelines for cities and counties to report to the commission on the number of permits issued for solar energy systems and an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system and the relevant characteristics of those systems. The bill would make related findings and declarations.
By increasing the duties of local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Permitting fees or soft costs to solar and storage projects can add substantial time and money to the adoption of additional solar and storage projects.

(b)California needs additional rooftop solar and storage projects in order to meet our renewable energy goals.

(c)

(b) To meet its clean energy goals, California needs may need up to six gigawatts of new renewable and storage resources annually. annually, including additional rooftop solar and storage projects.

(d)

(c) Per the 2021 Senate Bill 100 Joint Agency Report, Achieving 100% Clean Electricity in California, development of rooftop solar must increase dramatically.

(e)

(d) Because the 2021 budget included a $20 million appropriation to the Energy Commission for grants to all jurisdictions that adopt the SolarAPP+ or a similar program in order to expedite permitting, local permitting jurisdictions can and should be required to adopt SolarAPP+ or a similar program for automated permitting in order to promote the development of solar and storage to help meet the state’s clean energy needs.

SEC. 2.

 Section 65850.52 is added to the Government Code, immediately following Section 65850.5, to read:

65850.52.
 (a) For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
(1) “Energy Commission” means the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission.
(2) “Energy storage system” means commercially available technology, located behind a customer’s residential utility meter, that is capable of absorbing electricity generated from a colocated electricity generator or from the electrical grid, storing it for a period of time, and thereafter discharging it to meet the energy or power needs of the host customer or for export.
(3) “Solar energy system” means any configuration of solar energy devices that collects and distributes solar energy for the purpose of generating electricity and that has a single residential interconnection with the electric utility transmission or distribution network.
(4) “SolarAPP+” means the most recent version of a web-based portal, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, that automates plan review, produces code-compliant approvals, and issues permits for solar energy systems and energy storage systems paired with solar energy systems.
(b) Pursuant (1) Pursuant to the compliance schedule in subdivision (d), (c), a city, county, or city and county, in consultation with the local fire department, district, or authority, shall implement an online, automated permitting platform, such as SolarAPP+, that verifies meets both of the following requirements:
(A) The platform verifies code compliance and issues permits in real time to a licensed contractor for a solar energy system that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating and an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system that is no larger than 38.4 kilowatts alternating current nameplate rating, and is rating.
(B) The platform is consistent with the system parameters and configurations, including an inspection checklist, of SolarAPP+. Consistent
(2) Consistent with the same compliance schedule, a city, county, or city and county shall amend its ordinance adopted pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 65850.5 to authorize a residential solar energy system and an energy storage system to use the online, automated permitting platform.
(3) A city, county, or city and county is not required to permit an application for a solar energy system or energy storage system through the online automated permitting platform pursuant to this section if the system configuration is not eligible for SolarAPP+ at the time the application is submitted to the jurisdiction.
(c) (1) A city with a population of fewer than 5,000 and a county with a population of fewer than 150,000, and all cities within a county with a population of fewer than 150,000, are including each city within that county, is exempt from subdivision (b).
(2) A city with a population of 50,000 or fewer that is not exempt pursuant to paragraph (1) shall satisfy the requirements of subdivision (b) by September 30, 2024.
(3) A city, county, or city and county with a population of greater than 50,000 that is not exempt pursuant to paragraph (1) shall satisfy the requirements of subdivision (b) by September 30, 2023.

(d)Upon provision of sufficient funding, the Energy Commission may provide technical assistance and grant funding to a city, county, or city and county to support the implementation of online, automated permitting for a solar energy system and an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system and for compliance with the requirements of subdivision (b) in a timely manner.

(e)

(d) A city, county, or city and county, or a fire department, district, or authority, shall report to the Energy Commission when it is in compliance with subdivision (b).

(f)

(e) The Energy Commission shall set guidelines for cities, counties, and cities and counties to report to the commission on the number of permits issued for solar energy systems and an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system and the relevant characteristics of those systems. A city, county, or city and county shall annually report to the Energy Commission pursuant to those guidelines within one year of implementing the online, automated solar permitting system pursuant to subdivision (b).

(g)

(f) A city, county, or city and county shall self-certify its compliance with this section when applying for funds from the Energy Commission after the applicable date in the compliance schedule in subdivision (c), other than the twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) in funds available, pursuant to Section 76 of Chapter 69 of the Statutes of 2021, from the Energy Commission for automated solar permitting.

(h)

(g) This section does not limit or otherwise affect the generator interconnection requirements and approval process for a local publicly owned electric utility, as defined in Section 224.3 of the Public Utilities Code, or an electrical corporation, as defined in Section 218 of the Public Utilities Code.

(i)

(h) This section does not increase or otherwise affect the liability of a local agency pertaining to a solar energy system or an energy storage system paired with a solar energy system installed pursuant to this section.

SEC. 3.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.