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Solar Permits

This webpage has information on how to get a solar permit, applicable rules, solar permit application forms and permitting fees. Get the checklist and submittal requirements for prescriptive installations of solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems and more applications for solar permits.
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Man installing solar panels on roof

Step 1: Research rules that apply to a site

If you're planning a solar project or considering installing solar panels on a roof or site find out what rules apply. 

First, check the zoning by visiting Portland Maps. If the property is located in a plan district, historic or conservation district unique rules may apply including where to install a solar array.

If you have questions about your zoning contact Development Services for information. Please include your name, property address, question and contact information in your email or voicemail.

Step 2: Learn more about the solar permit review and inspection process

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
  • Fire
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing

Once your permit is approved and construction underway, you will need to call for an inspection. A Development Services inspector will come to the project site and review the installation for compliance with state building codes. 

For more information on review groups and inspections, please review the program guide “Solar Energy Systems for 1 & 2 Family Dwellings.”

Find a solar contractor 

A solar contractor usually coordinates permits and inspections. Find information on how to choose a solar contractor on the Energy Trust website. 

Step 3: Apply for a solar permit 

Solar energy systems for both commercial and residential projects will follow one of two permitting processes: prescriptive or engineered systems.

A solar installation that meets the prescriptive requirements will not require the system to be designed by an Oregon registered design professional. As such, projects that follow this process typically have lower permitting costs and an expedited permit review timeline.

Applicants should start by reviewing the Checklist and Submittal Requirement for Prescriptive Solar Installations under Solar permit information  below. Projects that do not qualify for the prescriptive process should review the documents related to engineered systems. 

Typically, residential solar projects will follow the prescriptive process while commercial solar projects will follow the engineered systems process. 

See the DRAFT Program Guide: Solar Energy systems for 1 & 2 Family Dwellings for information on permitting processes.

Solar permit information  

  1. Structural Design Requirements for Solar Installations 
  2. Guidelines for Residential Solar Permits using Engineered Systems 

Solar permit application forms 

Completed application including building plans should be submitted by email to the designated solar email address listed on the side of this page. You will be contacted within one to two business days if additional information is needed.

For more information on permits, application requirements or solar panel systems, check out the Solar Energy Systems for 1 & 2 Family Dwellings program guide.

Application packets for prescriptive solar permits must include items 1-4, below. If a project includes an engineered system, submit items listed under 1-3, below.  Solar electric systems do not need a plumbing permit.

  1. (solar water heating projects, only) 

Please check out our How to Fill Out a Building Permit Application- A Step-by-Step Guide.

Step 4: Review 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.  

Prescriptive estimate

System TypeBuilding PermitElectrical Permit

3.5 kW

5.5 kW
Water Heating$350.00$123.00

Engineered Systems estimate   

System TypeBuilding PermitElectrical Permit

3.5 kW

5.5 kW
Water Heating$494.00$123.00

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. Learn more about how we can help.

Additional information: 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.