Overview

Interested in installing a residential Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system in Palo Alto? Follow the 4 steps below to properly develop plans, submit an application for a permit, and receive approval for your residential PV system. Click here to visit the commercial PV Permitting page.



Review the City's PV Design Considerations

Review and submit application for Net Energy Metering Reservation

Review the State's Fire Marshal PV Installation Guidelines

Complete Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Review

Complete the Small Residential Submittal Package (project under 10kW) or Large Residential Submittal package (projects over 10kW)

Complete the PV Electric Load Sheet

Contact the City's Development Center to schedule and in-person permit application appointment

Submit permit application and pay permit fee. If approved, receive permit & begin installation


Schedule inspections with City of Palo Alto Utilities Electric Meter Shop and Palo Alto Building Department

Host City inspectors for on-site inspections










If inspections are successful, receive Interconnection Approval for your residential PV system at Final Inspection by Building Department

Check status of approval process online through ACCELA

Questions? Contact City of Palo Alto Utilities or Development Services
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More on Each Step

Follow the 4 steps below to properly install and receive approval for a residential PV system in Palo Alto.



a. Design Considerations

The City of Palo Alto has put together a reference guide that provides basic design considerations for the installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems. Click to view: Basic Design Considerations for Residential Solar PV Systems

For PV permits approved after 9/8/17, Smart Inverters are required as described in CPAU's Rule 27.

b. Net Energy Metering Reservation

The City of Palo Alto Utilities' (CPAU) process for Net Energy Metering (NEM) is unique in that it is separate from the PV Permitting process. As soon as a solar PV installation contract is signed, a customer can apply for a NEM Reservation with CPAU. See the Net Energy Metering Reservation Program for more information and to apply online.

c. Fire Marshal Guidelines

The City of Palo Alto has adopted the state of California's Fire Marshal Guidelines. Review the CA State Fire Marshal PV Installation Guidelines to ensure the plans for your residential PV system comply.

If your plans do not comply, you must submit an email request for a variance from the California Fire Code setbacks, as follow:

EMAIL: To: fire@cityofpaloalto.org, CC: james.henrikson@cityofpaloalto.org
SUBJECT LINE: "Fire PV Variance Request for <street address>
CONTENT: Include attachments for all appropriate drawings and schematics relating to your plans

d. Complete Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Review

If your project is small in size and capacity, you may be eligible for the Expedited Review process. Use the Eligibility Checklist for Expedited Review to determine whether your project is eligible.




a. Prepare Submittal Package

Use the appropriate Submittal Checklist to guide you through the permit submission requirements for your project, in order to prepare your application for a PV Permit.

SMALL RESIDENTIAL
Submittal Package for Simplified Central/String Inverter Systems
Submittal Package for Microinverter and AC Modules

LARGE RESIDENTIAL
All other installation types (projects over 10kW, supply-side interconnections, or systems with batteries), must use the following: Palo Alto Residential PV Submittal Checklist

b. Prepare Electric Load Sheet

You must fill out all appropriate sections of the PV Electric Load Sheet and submit with the Residential PV permit application.

c. Submit Application In Person

Residential PV permits are to be submitted in-person to the City of Palo Alto Development Center. You may submit over the counter, or schedule an appointment.

EMAIL: PV.appointments@cityofpaloalto.org
PHONE: (650) 329-2496
ADDRESS: 285 Hamilton Avenue at Bryant Street
HOUSE: 9 AM-4 PM, Monday - Friday

d. Permit Fees

To submit your application for a Residential PV Permit in Palo Alto, you must pay the following fees during your appointment at the Development Center.

Base Fee: $87
Residential (<10 kW) Fee: $86
Residential (>10 kW) Fee: $321

e. Permit Approval

If your submission is approved, you may receive your permit the same day (often for small residential) or within several business days. Large residential systems (projects over 10kW) will require an engineering review at no charge prior to receiving a permit – this review should be completed in 10 business days or fewer. Once you have an approved permit, you may start your PV installation.




a. Review PV Inspection Guidelines

Prior to scheduling a PV inspection, review the relevant PV Inspection Guidelines in order to prepare for the inspection.

Small Residential (<10 kW) Inspection Guidelines
Large Residential (>10 kW) Inspection Guidelines

b. Schedule Inspection Appointments

SMALL RESIDENTIAL

CPAU Electric Meter Shop Inspection: Call CPAU Electric Meter Shop at (650) 496-6978
Building Department Final PV Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496

LARGE RESIDENTIAL
Building Department Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496
CPAU Electric Meter Shop Inspection: Call CPAU Electric Meter Shop at (650) 496-6978
Building Department Final PV Inspection: Call Building Department at (650) 329-2496




a. Receive Interconnection Approval

The Palo Alto Building Inspector issues the Interconnection Approval (also known as "Permission to Operate") at the final inspection.

b. Check Approval Status Online

You can view your permit status through the online permit system, ACCELA. To view your project's status, follow the steps below:

- Visit the ACCELA Webpage
- Select "Building" from top menu
- Enter address or permit number into search boxes
- Select the link for the relevant PV Permit number
- Select "Records Info" tab, then "Inspections", and look for the approval date for inspection code "703 Photovoltaic Final"

c. Contacts

Permitting, Interconnection Approval Questions
CONTACT: City of Palo Alto Development Center
EMAIL: PV.Appointments@cityofpaloalto.org
PHONE: (650) 329-2496

Net Metering and Interconnection Agreements
CONTACT: Utility Program Services
EMAIL: PVpartners@cityofpaloalto.org
PHONE: (650) 329-2241

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