City and County of San Francisco, CA

City and County of San Francisco, CA

SAN FRANCISCO'S SOLAR ENERGY INFORMATION HUB

Find the latest resources and information available for installing solar power and expanding the solar market in the City and County of San Francisco, whether you're a resident, business, installer or local government agency.

San Francisco is well positioned for solar market growth due to a suite of aggressive renewable energy goals and supportive policies. Transitioning to solar power not only provides environmental benefits like enhanced air quality, but it also delivers a host of economic benefits from green job creation to market development. Below, there is a direct link to the City's interactive policy roadmap designed to increase local solar installations by making it easier and more cost-effective to ‘go solar’.

As of 2013, the City is home to over 20 MW of installed solar capacity, including one of the largest urban solar arrays in the country atop the Sunset Reservoir.

San Francisco is part of the San Francisco Bay Area region.

Community Profile

805,235 population
33% renewables by 2020
47 square miles

Residential Solar Potential

Upgrade to LEADER plan to display your community's solar potential.

Roadmap

The Solar Roadmap team has worked in close coordination with the City/County to develop a customized, interactive solar roadmap containing guidance on how to transform the local solar market. Each recommendation in the roadmap is supported with relevant reports, case studies, examples, and templates to support local and regional implementation efforts.

These roadmap goals are derived from attributes of successful solar communities nationwide, along with input from industry experts. Each goal represents a step toward making solar easier and more cost effective for all residents within the community. Your specific roadmap has been customized using the attributes that are relevant at the city-level in the local solar market.

Expand each focus area below to show its related goals, and click the 'Take Action' button to access the relevant resources designed to help you achieve these goals.

showPermitting Process

Current Progress:
10 of 14 goals achieved
71%
Planned
Local Priority

[P1-CA] (AB2188 Mandate) Use Standard Permit Application Materials Specific to PV Systems(32)

Standard permit application for solar PV systems

City currently at best practice.

[P2] Make Permit Application Form Available Online(176)

Solar permit application available online

City currently at best practice- solar PV permit application form available online at http://sfdbi.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/dbi/Services/InspectionServices/Solar%20Permit%20Worksheet.pdf

[P3] Allow Electronic Submittal of Application Form(87)

In person submittal only

Electronic submittal made available for systems under 4kW

City currently at best practice. Find submittal information at: http://sfdbi.org/index.aspx?page=228

[P4] Require only 1 Permit Application Submittal(164)

Single electrical permit application submittal for standard roof-mounted systems, no other reqs

City currently at best practice.

[P5-CA] Post Permit and Inspection Process Information and Fee Schedule Online(40)

Permitting process memo is available online

City currently at best practice- comprehensive process information available at http://www.sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/fliers/files/sfe_re_sf_solar_pv_permitting_guide.pdf

[P6] Streamline Permit Processing Time and Allow Expedited Process for Qualifying Projects(75)

Over-the-counter for residential; within 2-4 days for commercial

City currently at best practice.

[P7-CA] Base Residential Permit Fee on Actual Cost to Administer(55)

Flat fee of $180 for systems under 10kW

City currently at best practice.

[P8-CA] Base Commercial Permit Fee on Actual Cost to Administer(37)

Flat fee of $180 for systems <10kW, plus $100 for each additional 10kW

City currently at best practice.

[P9] Minimize Inspection Turnaround Time(147)

Inspections typically scheduled 1-2 business days in advance.

City at currently best practice.

[P10] Offer Convenient Inspection Scheduling(94)

Inspector offers 4 hour appointment window.

Provide an appointment window of 2 hours or less if possible. Provide real time updates prior to arrival so contractor is aware and prepared.

[P11] Require only 1 Inspection Visit(82)

Single inspection required for electrical final

City currently at best practice.

[P12] Adopt an Inspection Checklist(21)

Brief description provided, but no detailed list

Utilize a standard inspection checklist for PV systems. The checklist serves as a guide for inspectors and installers containing points of emphasis and common issues.

[P13] Allow a Structural Exemption for Qualifying Systems(41)

Unknown

For qualifying residential systems meeting certain criteria, allow an exemption from structural analysis or structural PE stamp requirements.

[P14-CA] Understand New California Solar-Specific Building, Electrical, and Fire Codes (Title 24)(55)

Awareness of recent solar updates in 2013 California Codes

City currently at best practice.

showPlanning & Zoning

Current Progress:
1 of 5 goals achieved
20%
Planned

[Z1-CA] Develop a Local Ordinance that Protects Solar Rights and Access(36)

State laws provide limited protection for solar rights and solar access, but no local ordinances

Create local ordinances which would protect property owners' right to install solar and ensure their property has unobstructed access to direct sunlight.

[Z2-CA] Develop a Local Ordinance that requires Solar Ready Construction(15)

No local ordinance for solar ready construction

Explore creation of municipal ordinances which require all new homes and buildings to be built solar-ready, which go beyond California's "solar zones" mandate in the 2013 Energy Code (Section 110.10). Starting July 1, 2014, the building codes will require certain new construction to pre-wire for solar.

[Z4-CA] Incorporate Solar Priorities into Comprehensive, Energy or Climate Action Plans(45)

Increased solar development is a component of City's goal to achieve 100% renewable energy supply.

City currently at best practice.

[Z5-CA] Update Local Zoning Standards and Review for Solar Installations(32)

No local standards for solar zoning and review

Restrictive covenants must be appropriately minimized in order to maximize local opportunities to harness and benefit from solar energy.

[Z6-CA] Update Local Zoning Standards and Review for Solar Installations - Historic and Viewshed Areas(14)

No local solar zoning ordinances and regulations for historic and viewshed areas

Ensure the zoning codes and ordinances that govern solar installations in aesthetically sensitive areas do not adversely affect property owners' ability to install solar. Allow staff members to review and approve applications when possible rather than requiring committee or planning commission review. CA Solar Rights Act requires that local governments use an administrative, non-discretionary review process for on-site solar energy systems that do not place restrictions on visual or aesthetic concerns.

showFinancing Options

Current Progress:
3 of 3 goals achieved
100%
Planned

[F5a] Explore Implementation of Local PACE Financing Pilot Program (73)

GreenFinanceSF offers PACE financing for commercial entities.

City currently at best practice. Consider expanding PACE financing to residential entities.

[F6] Encourage Local Financial Stakeholders to Establish New Solar Loan Programs(63)

Residential and commercial solar loan programs available to San Franciscans not posted online

SF Environment has a list of solar financing options available on website.

City currently at best practice. See solar loan providers at http://www.sfenvironment.org/article/solar/solar-financing-options

[F7] Promote Availability of Existing Solar Finance Options and Evaluation Tools(38)

City offers an array on online tools and resources, including the SF Energy Map

City currently at best practice. See the SF Energy Map at http://sfenergymap.org/ as well as SF Environment's resources for solar financing at http://www.sfenvironment.org/article/solar/solar-financing-options

showSolar Market Development

Current Progress:
5 of 5 goals achieved
100%
Planned

[M1] Support Aggregate Procurement Program for Residential Sector(40)

City implementing residential group purchase program for City employees using SunShares model.

City at best practice.

[M2] Support Aggregate Procurement Program for Commercial Sector(6)

Solar@Work commercial aggregation program implemented in 2011

City currently at best practice.

[M3] Explore Implementation of Collaborative Procurement Program for Municipal Facilities and Schools(38)

Solar@School private school aggregation program implemented in 2011. No municipal programs to date.

City currently at best practice! To expand success, consider aggregating municipal projects in the City and/or joining a regional municipal aggregation program with other Bay Area jurisdictions.

[M7] Publicize Solar Workforce Development Resources and Industry Training Tools(21)

City offers green workforce development training program and free solar courses are offered by PG&E

City currently at best practice- SF Environment provides green job resources at http://www.sfenvironment.org/education-equity/green-jobs

[M8] Provide Solar Educational Resources to Constituents(77)

City has various platforms for engaging the public to build awareness about the benefits of solar

City currently at best practice- see SF Environment's solar page at http://www.sfenvironment.org/energy/renewable-energy/solar

Resources