What property owners should know
Hire a solar contractor
What to expect during the application process
- The contractor will need the property owner's phone number and email address.
- The contractor will need to look at the roof to determine the type of permit needed.
- Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received. Check your place in the Daily Permit Request List to find out more about the current order of permit requests.
How to track the status of your permit
Once you submit your application, there are various ways to track its progress. See Step 4: Check your permit status.
Step 1: Research rules that apply to a site
Find out what rules apply in the property zone for a solar project online using Portland Maps. Special rules may apply if the property is located in a plan district, historic, or conservation district. Visit this page for more information on how to research the zoning that applies to your project.
City staff is available to meet and answer your permit-related questions. Learn more about our free 15-minute question appointments and schedule a meeting with a city planner, permit technician, building code and engineering reviewer, or a fire safety expert.
Step 2: Determine which solar permit path to take
There are two different review processes for solar permits: the prescriptive process and the engineered systems process. To determine if a structure meets prescriptive standards, you will need to assess the roof construction and be prepared to answer a series of questions when you apply for your solar permit. You can preview and prepare for the application questions using the solar worksheet.
Solar installations utilizing solar roof tiles should follow the engineered systems process.
- Solar energy systems that meet the prescriptive installation path described in the state building code are not required to be designed by an Oregon registered design professional.
- Solar energy systems not meeting the prescriptive path will follow the engineered systems process. Engineered systems must be designed by an Oregon registered design professional. Solar installations utilizing solar roof tiles are not required to be designed by an Oregon Registered Design professional provided (1) the net installed weight of the system, including all components above the roof sheathing, is less than or equal to 4 psf., (2) solar tiles are installed directly over existing sheathing by removing all existing roofing material above the existing sheathing, and (3) all solar tiles (both active and inactive tiles) shall be uniformly supported over the existing sheathing.
- Learn more about the engineered systems process in these Guidelines for Residential Solar Permits using Engineered Systems.
- Structural Design Requirements for Solar Installations apply only to projects following the engineered systems process. It does not apply to uniformly supported solar tile installations.
- Please note that projects that follow the engineered systems process may have a longer permit review timeline.
Step 3: Apply for a solar permit
Submit your complete solar permit request online through Development Hub PDX (DevHub).
After you submit a permit request, we will contact you within one to two business days if we need additional information.
All solar permit applications must include the following materials uploaded in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format:
- The Structural Design Criteria. The structural design criteria shall be listed on the first page of the drawings which shall be stamped by a Registered Design Professional, registered in Oregon. At a minimum, the design criteria shall include:
- Design sloped roof snow load (shall not be less than 20 psf),
- Basic design wind speed (min. 98 mph) and exposure category, and
- Solar panel system dead load.
- For solar installations utilizing solar roof tiles that are not required to be designed by an Oregon registered design professional, clearly indicate that (1) the net installed weight of the system including all components above the roof sheathing is less than or equal to 4 psf., (2) solar tiles are installed directly over existing sheathing by removing all existing roofing material above the existing sheathing, and (3) a statement that the installation shall meet the requirements of section 1507.16 of the 2022 Oregon Structural Specialty Code or section 905.16 of the 2021 Oregon Residential Specialty Code.
- Site Plan
- Fire Access Path (Not required for solar tile installations)
- A roof framing plan (Roof framing plan is not required if the roof is framed using pre-engineered trusses and for solar installations utilizing solar tiles. Instead, provide a roof plan showing the layout of the solar panels.)
- A roof cross section (Roof cross section is not required if the roof is framed using pre-engineered trusses and for solar installations utilizing solar tile installations.)
- System Racking Attachment (required for both Engineered and Prescriptive Pathways)
- Engineering calculations stamped by an Oregon registered design professional are required for all Engineered systems. Exception: Calculations are not required for solar installations utilizing solar roof tiles provided (1) the net installed weight of the system including all components above the roof sheathing is less than or equal to 4 psf., (2) solar tiles are installed directly over existing sheathing by removing all existing roofing material above the existing sheathing, and (3) all solar tiles (both active and inactive tiles) shall be uniformly supported over the existing sheathing. Instead, a letter certifying that the installation meets the requirements of section 1507.16 of the 2022 Oregon Structural Specialty Code or section 905.16 of the 2021 Oregon Residential Specialty Code may be uploaded along with the manufacturer’s installation requirements.
After submitting your permit request through DevHub, your submission will be reviewed by a permit technician to check that the information you provided meets minimum submittal standards. Your permit request will be assigned an IVR number during this request review process.
Step 4: Check your permit status
City permit bureaus review project plans for compliance with local and state development codes. Depending on the project, different review groups check each project.
To learn more about how to track the status of your permit, visit the "Check Permit Status" page, which also provides guidance and a short video on how to use Portland Maps.
Step 5: Respond to corrections
You may need to make corrections to the plans you submit. Visit the page, "How to Prepare and Submit Permit Application Corrections Electronically," to find out how to submit corrections correctly through the Single PDF Process. If minimal submittal requirements are not met, corrections will be rejected.
Step 6: Pre-Issuance
Pre-issuance is the last step before your permit is final. We will do the following:
- We review plans to see what changes were made. We also make sure the changes do not require another review.
- If changes occur during the review process, the reviewers will be notified – this will show on PortlandMaps.com as "Hold see comments."
- Review that fees are accurate.
When the final review happens and next steps for your permit
- This review is completed in chronological order based upon the sign-off date of the last technical review.
- Once your pre-issuance check is completed, we'll contact you. We'll let you know that the permit is ready to issue and about any fees due.
You can find the contact information of the permit technician assigned to your permit on Portland Maps.
Step 7: Inspections
Once your permit is approved and construction underway, you will need to call for an inspection. A City inspector will come to the project site and review the installation for compliance with state building codes.
Learn more and watch the video about how to schedule and how to prepare for a solar inspection.
Step 8 (if required): Requesting a Permit Revision
Sometimes it is necessary to revise approved permit plans to address issues that arise during construction, after a permit has been issued. Most changes to approved permit plans will require an application for a permit revision. If you are unsure whether a change requires a permit revision, speak with your City inspector for clarification.
Click here for detailed information on how to submit an application for a permit revision. After you have logged into your DevHub account, select “Apply for a New Permit” and then select “Building Permit Request.” Although you are applying to revise a solar permit application, DO NOT select “Solar Permit Request.” Select “Building Permit Request” and follow the steps for How to apply for a permit revision on DevHub.
Solar permit fee estimates
The fees listed in the table below are estimates. Final permit fees depend on the size and type of solar panel system as well as the review process (prescriptive process or engineered system). Fees for an electrical or plumbing permit depend on the system size or fixture count on a trade permit application.
|System Type||Estimated Building Permit Fees||Estimated Electrical Permit Fees|
Engineered Systems estimate
|System Type||Estimated Building Permit Fees||Estimated Electrical Permit Fees|
Small Business Empowerment Program
The Small Business Empowerment Program assists Black, Indigenous and people of color business owners and business owners with disabilities recognized by the ADA who have experienced barriers in the review process.
Working with utility companies
Oregon law allows all utility customers to generate their own electricity. You can also reduce electricity bills by installing a photovoltaic energy system. Your utility provider will switch out your existing utility meter for a bidirectional “net” meter. This tracks the power you get from the utility, and what you send back to the grid.
The power you use from your utility is offset by the power you send to grid and you are only charged for the difference or the “net.” You may generate more power than you use in a billing period. Then your bill will show no kilowatt hour usage charges, and you'll only be responsible for basic utility service charges. For more information visit Solar Net Metering – Energy Trust of Oregon.