July 17, 2012 | Media Release, News Media
New Initiative to Streamline Approval Process for Solar Panel Installations and Provide Guidance on How to Install Solar Panel Systems
Program Supports City Efforts to Reduce the Timeline for Installing Solar Panel Systems to Less Than 100 Days as Part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative
Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the start of Get It Done. Together. – Solar Edition, a new citywide initiative to accelerate the permitting process for solar panel installations. Modeled after the Get It Done. Together. program to accelerate the approval of pending construction projects, the Solar Edition program is designed to streamline the review process for solar panel applications and help industry members resolve regulatory conflicts so their projects can move forward. In July, senior Department officials and plan examiners will meet with industry members and homeowners to provide guidance on how to meet permitting requirements on particular projects so permits can be issued in a timely manner. Under the Get It Done. Together. program in 2011, the Department approved more than 1,400 pending construction projects, increased approvals by up to 52% per hour and generated more than $1 billion in potential economic activity across the City.
“Installing solar panels is a great way to green the Big Apple, and we want to do everything we can to make it easier for property owners and applicants,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Under this new program, our experts will sit down with applicants and guide them through the filing process so they can better understand the regulations and file the appropriate paperwork. Our goal is not only to accelerate the solar panel installation process citywide, but to encourage more New Yorkers to take advantage of this clean and affordable energy.”
“New York City’s installed solar capacity has grown by 800 percent since 2007, and we’ve just seen the beginning,” said Sergej Mahnovski, Director of Energy Policy at the Mayor’s Office. “Through Get It Done. Together. – Solar Edition, the City is demonstrating its commitment to reducing the complexity and cost of installing solar systems, which is the core objective of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Challenge. These efforts will make New York City a premier location to make clean energy investments and advance our PlaNYC sustainability goals for a greener, greater New York.”
“Solar is increasingly becoming part of America’s energy equation, creating a vital role for buildings across the country as hosts for renewable power,” said Tria Case, University Director of Sustainability for the City University of New York and lead implementer of the U.S. Department of Energy solar efforts in NYC. “Get It Done. Together. – Solar Edition and the ongoing collaborative efforts in NYC to streamline installations addresses what has become one of the largest costs for installing solar in an urban environment and creates a blueprint for other cities.”
Regulations governing solar panel installations are to ensure panels are properly installed on buildings throughout the City, including maintaining proper egress for residents and emergency responders. However, these safety requirements can often become complex and burdensome. The Solar Edition program is designed to help applicants meet these requirements and develop solutions for objections on solar panel applications that have not yet been approved. During the month of July, applicants and homeowners can meet with Department officials at the agency’s headquarters at 280 Broadway in Manhattan. The program dates are on July 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31, and the sessions will last from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., including seminars on how to install solar panels and the benefits they offer. To raise awareness about the new initiative, letters were sent to more than 200 property owners and applicants whose projects have not yet been approved. However, any property owner or licensed professional with unapproved solar panel applications or wishing to learn more about installing solar panels can participate by sending an email to the Department at GetItDoneTogether@buildings.nyc.gov.
Installing rooftop solar panels allows New Yorkers to produce clean, renewable energy and helps the City to achieve its PlaNYC goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Solar energy can also help to reduce peak demand for electricity and harmful air emissions on hot summer days. To encourage homeowners to install solar panels, in 2008, the City began offering tax abatements to New Yorkers who install these systems. Since then, more than 200 solar panel systems have been approved citywide. Visit the Department’s website at www.nyc.gov/buildings for more information on the solar panel tax abatement program.
Get It Done. Together. – Solar Edition supports the City’s efforts to simplify and accelerate the solar installation process as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (USDOE) SunShot Rooftop Solar Challenge. In December 2011, the City was selected to participate in this nationwide initiative that seeks to make solar electricity cost competitive without subsidies by the end of the decade. Since 2007, USDOE has recognized the City as a leading “Solar America City” and provided funding and technical assistance to a Partnership composed of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, the City University of New York and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with Con Edison, the New York Power Authority, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Since then, the City’s installed solar capacity has grown by 800 percent – from over 1 megawatts to over 8.4 megawatts today.
The Solar Edition is part of the Department’s continued efforts to streamline the construction project approval process, including the expansion of its electronic plan review and permitting procedures. In October 2011, the Department opened the NYC Development Hub, a new state-of-the-art project review center where digital construction plans are accepted and reviewed. Under the agency’s eFiling program, more than 150,000 documents are prepared and submitted online annually in order to apply for construction permits, including after-hours work variances and limited alteration applications. In April, the Department also announced a new program to accept three-dimensional, interactive site safety plans for the City’s largest projects in order to increase safety and accelerate the approval process.