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Portland achieving results through innovations in its solar permitting process

Press Release
Man installing solar panels on roof
Property owners want to reduce their reliance on the energy grid and promote cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity. The City of Portland is testing new approaches in the review of permits for solar panel arrays.
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In recognition of solar energy’s importance to the City’s Climate Action goals, its development review bureaus are improving the solar permits process.

Last fall, the Bureau of Development Services streamlined the permit application process to better guide customers through questions specific to the details of their submittals.

Requiring complete information from customers at the outset reduced the time to begin processing a permit application. Since the improved customer interface in Development Hub PDX launched Oct. 12, the share of solar permit applications rejected due to incomplete submittals was reduced by more than 40 percent.

The Bureau of Development Services and Portland Fire & Rescue announced a three-month pilot project, starting Friday, March 24, that will consolidate the review of residential solar panel arrays under Fire & Rescue. Plan reviewers at Fire & Rescue will review plans for state building code requirements and confirm that engineered designs are prepared and stamped by a registered engineer.

“I want to thank the city employees who came together to improve the way we review solar permits – without compromising safety,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who oversees the Bureau of Development Services. “The more efficient we can be at our work, the faster we can bring more clean solar energy online, helping to reach our climate goals.

“In any construction project, permitting is a partnership between the City and the customer,” she continued. “The timely review and issuance of permits rely on the flexibility of City staff and the cooperation of customers to provide complete information that meets building codes. Both have a role to play in the success of this effort.”