SB 617

  • California Senate Bill
  • 2021-2022 Regular Session
  • Introduced in Senate Feb 18, 2021
  • Senate
  • Assembly
  • Governor

Residential solar energy systems: permitting.


Existing law requires a city or county to administratively approve applications to install solar energy systems through the issuance of a building permit or similar nondiscretionary permit. Existing law requires every city, county, or city and county, to develop a streamlined permitting process for the installation of small residential rooftop solar energy systems, as that term is defined. Existing law prescribes and limits permit fees that a city or county may charge for a residential and commercial solar energy system. Existing law grants the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regulatory authority over public utilities, including electrical corporations, as defined. Decisions of the PUC adopted the California Solar Initiative, which is administered by electrical corporations and subject to the PUC's supervision. Existing law requires the PUC and the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (Energy Commission) to undertake certain steps in implementing the California Solar Initiative. A violation of the Public Utilities Act or any order, decision, rule, direction, demand, or requirement of the commission is a crime. Existing law specifies that the financial components of the California Solar Initiative include, among other programs, programs for the installation of solar energy systems on new construction, which collectively are known as the New Solar Homes Partnership Program. Existing law requires the program, which is administered by the Energy Commission, to be funded by charges in the amount of $400,000,000 collected from customers of the state's 3 largest electrical corporations. If specified moneys are exhausted, existing law authorizes the PUC to require each of those electrical corporations to continue the program pursuant to guidelines established by the Energy Commission for the program until the $400,000,000 monetary limit is reached. If the PUC requires the continuation of the program, existing law requires any funding made available to be encumbered no later than June 1, 2018, and disbursed no later than December 31, 2021. Existing law makes the provisions of the program inoperative on June 1, 2018. This bill would require every city and county to implement an online, automated permitting platform that verifies code compliance and instantaneously issues permits for a residential photovoltaic solar energy system and an energy storage system paired with a residential photovoltaic solar energy system, as specified. The bill would require a city or county to amend a certain ordinance to authorize a residential solar energy system and an energy storage system to use the online, automated permitting platform. The bill would prescribe a compliance schedule for satisfying these requirements, which would exempt a city or county with a population of less than 10,000. The bill would require a city or county with a population of 10,001 to 50,000 to satisfy these requirements by September 30, 2023, while cities and counties with populations greater than 50,000 would be required to satisfy the requirements by September 30, 2022. The bill would require a city, county, or fire district to provide the option of remote inspections by real-time or recorded video or photo for a residential photovoltaic solar energy system and battery storage systems paired with a residential photovoltaic solar energy system. The bill would require that the remote inspections be offered at no greater cost, and be available with no greater delay, than in-person inspections. The bill would require a city, county, or a fire district to report to the Energy Commission when it is in compliance with specified requirements, in addition to other information. By increasing the duties of local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would prohibit the provision of specified funding sources to cities and counties not in compliance with certain provisions relating to solar energy systems and fees charged for their installation or if they are not in compliance with provisions of the bill. The bill would authorize the Energy Commission to provide technical assistance and grant funding to cities and counties in order to support the above-described requirements. The bill would require the commission to develop grant guidelines and other requirements, as specified, by July 1, 2022. The bill would require the PUC to require the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the Southern California Edison Company, and the San Diego Gas and Electric Company to repurpose $20,000,000 supporting the New Solar Homes Partnership Program, as specified, to providing technical assistance and grant funding, and to pay the administrative costs of the Energy Commission. Because this requirement would expand the definition of a crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require the Energy Commission to set guidelines for cities and counties to report to the commission on the number of permits issued for residential photovoltaic solar energy systems and the relevant characteristics of those systems. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that with regard to certain mandates no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. With regard to any other mandates, this bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs so mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to the statutory provisions noted above.

Bill Sponsors (4)


No votes to display


Mar 03, 2021


Referred to Coms. on GOV. & F. and E., U. & C.

  • Referral-Committee
Coms. on GOV. & F. and E., U. & C.

Feb 22, 2021


Art. IV. Sec. 8(a) of the Constitution dispensed with.


(Ayes 32. Noes 4.)


Joint Rule 55 suspended. (Ayes 32. Noes 4.)

Feb 19, 2021


From printer. May be acted upon on or after March 21.

Feb 18, 2021


Introduced. Read first time. To Com. on RLS. for assignment. To print.

Bill Text

Bill Text Versions Format
02/18/21 - Introduced PDF

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