NREL and Accela launch residential solar permittting platform

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Image: Panasonic.

Software company Accela is joining forces with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on a new platform offering faster permitting for residential solar and battery energy storage projects.

Called SolarAPP+, the service will be offered to 1,500 agencies and Accela’s current state and local customers in an effort to shorten permitting times from two weeks to “instantaneous”, according to a statement from the company. Using the app, Accela said, will help local agencies to process large volumes of residential solar and home battery permit applications.

Tom Nieto, Accela’s chief operating officer, said that agencies are “increasingly looking for ways to speed up solar permitting to support local jobs, drive economic growth, and protect the environment.”

The tool, which was designed by NREL and funded by the DOE, identifies code issues, typos, and other errors, and returns corrections to the applicant, allowing more straightforward projects to move forward quickly and taking pressure off staff to focus on “more complex or unique applications”.

The SolarAPP+ enables cities and counties to “streamline and standardize permitting requirements” for home solar installations and battery systems to support the rapid scale-up in solar capacity across the US.

Carla Blackwell, director of development services at Pima County, Arizona, said that leveraging the SolarAPP+ will enable the municipality’s agency to “save valuable time, money, and human resources to process roughly 250 permits per month in the region.”

The software-as-a-service product’s launch comes in the same week that the DOE set aside US$8.25 million in loan financing to help support transmission grid improvements as more variable renewable energy comes online over the next decade.

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