What homeowners should know
Hire a solar contractor
What to expect during the application process
- The contractor will need the homeowner's phone number and email address.
- The contractor will need to look at the roof to determine the type of permit needed.
How to track the status of your permit
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. If the property is located in a plan district, historic, or conservation district, unique rules may apply. If you have questions about zoning, please schedule a free 15-minute virtual meeting with a construction, zoning or development 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. Review the Checklist and Submittal Requirements for Solar Installations to determine which process your project will follow.
- Solar energy systems that meet the requirements of the solar prescriptive process are not required to be designed by an Oregon registered design professional.
- Solar energy systems that do not meet the prescriptive process requirements will follow the engineered systems process. The engineered systems process requires the system to be designed by an Oregon registered design professional.
- Review the list of projects that do not qualify for the prescriptive process here: Checklist and Submittal Requirements for Solar Installations.
- Here's a tip: You may need to complete Section “A” in the Checklist to find out if your project will follow the engineered or prescriptive process. If you answer “No” to any item in Section ”A” on the Checklist, your installation does not qualify for the prescriptive path and you must follow the engineered process.
- 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.
- Please note that projects that follow the engineered systems process may have a longer permit review timeline.
Step 3: Apply for a solar permit
Applications for both prescriptive and engineered solar permits must include the information listed below. If your project includes an engineered system, you are not required to complete Section A of the Checklist. Solar electric systems do not need a plumbing permit, and the plumbing permit application is only required for solar heating projects.
Solar permit application forms
- Required drawings listed in the Checklist
- The Plumbing Permit Application is only required for solar water heating projects.
Need help filling out the Building Permit Application? Please check out our How to Fill Out a Building Permit Application guide.
For more information on permits, application requirements or solar panel systems, check out the Solar Energy Systems for 1 & 2 Family Dwellings program guide.
Submit your complete solar permit request online through DevHub. View instructions to Submit a Permit Request Online using DevHub. After you submit a permit request, we will contact you within one to two business days if we need additional information.
We will review your solar permit application request for completeness.
Step 4: Track a permit under review
Development Services reviews project plans for compliance with local and state development codes. Depending on the project, different review groups may check each project, including:
- Planning and Zoning
- Plan Review
- Permitting Services
You can track the status of your permit on Portland Map using your IVR number or application number.
For detailed instructions, learn how to use Portland Maps to check on a permit under review.
Step 5: Respond to corrections
You may need to make corrections to the plans you submit. Click here 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.
Solar permit fee estimates
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.
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Engineered Systems estimate
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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.