A building permit is required for most electrical projects. On this page you will find application forms, fee schedules and information, as well as additional information you may need to submit prior to obtaining a building permit or starting work.

What are the permits, requirements and fees for electrical projects?

In the City of Palo Alto, building permits are handled by the Development Services Department. Building permit information can be found on our Building Permits webpage.


The City of Palo Alto requires a “base fee” for all building-related projects. The base fee is approximately $129 – check the City’s Adopted Municipal Fee Schedule for updated values. A comprehensive list of all fees can be found in the Fee Schedule. Look in the Table of Contents to find the pages where Development Services fees for building permits are listed. The fees shown in the Fee Schedule are adopted by the City Council and are applicable for a specific year, so be sure that you are referring to the most current version.


In addition to the base permit, permits specific to individual types of projects are often required and specific guidelines must be followed. Below is a list of common electrical projects and their related permit fees. Again, check for the most up-to-date values in the City’s Adopted Municipal Fee Schedule.

• Residential Photovoltaic Systems (Less than 10 kW): $185

• EV charger, residential, Level 1 and Level 2: $173

• EV charger, residential, Level 3: $263

• Electric appliances, up to five per permit (for example, heat pump water heater, heat pump clothes dryer, induction cooktop): $66

When an electric panel is upgraded, the new panel’s location must comply with City electric-service requirements. These requirements include but are not limited to the following (from the section on Metering and Service Equipment, Metering Locations):

• Electric panel must be installed at least 48 inches above grade.

• Electric panel may not be installed above gas meter.

• Electric panel may not be installed near swinging windows that may obstruct the meter.

When working with an electrician on a panel upgrade project, select an electric panel configuration that will accommodate your needs in the future as well as today. For example, if your electric service from the utility is currently above ground, be sure that your new electric panel is compatible with possible future undergrounding of your electric service.

Whether your electric service is above ground or underground, circumstances may occur in which an electric panel upgrade results in additional services such as modifying above-ground connections or underground electrical conduits and wiring. This work requires Utilities Engineering site visits and fees. Be sure to consider these fees prior to paying other fees in case costs become prohibitive and your plans to proceed with electrical upgrade projects change. A summary of Utilities Engineering fees can be found in the Electric Service Connection Rate Schedule E-15.


For assistance with understanding which projects require Utilities Engineering services and any associated fees, please contact Utilities Engineering directly:


     Phone: (650) 566-4500

     Email: Utilities.Engineering@CityofPaloAlto.org

     Address: 1007 Elwell Court, Palo Alto (In-person meetings are by appointment only.)