How to Get a Solar Permit in Colorado

We get it! You’re eager to get on with your solar project and start enjoying solar energy as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite as straightforward as that, and to avoid landing yourself in hot water, it’s essential that you get a solar permit before any work can begin.

If you’re wondering about solar permits and how to acquire one, keep reading. We’re here to provide you with all the necessary information and the steps to obtain your permit. 

In a Nutshell

  • The solar permit is required to ensure your proposed installation meets the required safety standards, codes, and zoning regulations.
  • The process to get a permit varies between cities and counties across Colorado.
  • Wait times for permits can range from an hour up to 11 weeks and more.
  • A bill was passed in 2023 to standardize and streamline the permit application process across the whole of Colorado.
  • Permit fees are capped at $500 for residential and $1,000 for commercial.

Do I Need a Permit to Install Solar Panels in Colorado?

The quick answer is “yes,” you absolutely need to get a permit to have solar panels installed in Colorado. In fact, most states require you to get a permit for solar panels, but the confusion lies in the application process, which differs vastly from state to state and from city to city or county.

Perform a Google search for “Solar permit in Colorado” and you will get a long list of links for the various counties and municipalities, and their specific process on how to apply for one.

But, confusing as it is, it is a legal requirement to have a solar permit in place before you begin any work on your solar system.

What Is the Solar Permit for?

The key reason for the solar permit is safety. When you submit your application, it will be scrutinized to ensure the proposed installation meets all local safety codes and regulations and adheres to the International Fire Code, as well as any building codes and zoning regulations, if applicable.

Additionally, the permit will confirm that your solar installation will be connected to the grid properly and correctly.

Just like a building permit, the solar permit exists to prove that you are installing a safe and high-quality system that won’t pose a danger or risk to anyone or anything around it.

How Do I Get a Colorado Solar Power Permit?

Research Local  Permit Requirements

Your solar Permit Search, Colorado, starts with your local town, city, or county’s website. This is where you’ll typically find all the information you need to get a solar permit, including how to apply.

As you can see in the example image above, Brighton, CO, has a dedicated page with clear links to find the application process.

They will generally also list all the local requirements, including the relevant safety codes, building codes, zoning regulations, etc. that you must make sure your installation project complies with before applying. They will detail the fee you must pay and where to submit the application.

Gather the Paperwork

The next step involves getting all the necessary paperwork together for your application. The amount of information required, again, varies by city or county, but generally, you will be expected to provide:

  • A site plan detailing where the solar panels will be installed.
  • Electrical diagrams showing the system components and wiring.
  • Specification sheets for all equipment, including panels, inverters, and mounting systems.
  • Roof load analysis (for rooftop installations) to confirm structural soundness.
  • A copy of your utility bill to ensure the correct system size.

After you have gathered all the necessary paperwork, all you need to do is submit it along with the required fee, and then the waiting game begins!

How Long Does It Take to Get a Solar Permit in Colorado?

Wait times can be a source of frustration when installing solar energy. Because the US lacks a standardized process, the length of time you have to wait is down to the city or county where you made the application.

In Colorado, the times vary wildly. In Denver, they have worked to streamline the process and permits can be obtained in as little as an hour. In other areas, the wait time can be up to and over 11 weeks.

There is hope on the horizon, though. In May 2023, Governor Polis signed a bill into law that will move Colorado toward a streamlined and efficient permitting service. 

The bill will provide over $1 million to help local governments adopt permitting software, such as Solar APP+ (the software currently utilized by Denver).

The software automated much of the permit application process and final inspections. As a result, solar projects are 37% less likely to fail their final inspection, so it’s good news all around.

How quickly Colorado as a whole will adopt the streamlined process remains to be seen, but rest assured it will happen eventually.

Are There Any Colorado Solar Permit Fees?

Another bill recently introduced by Governor Polis is the capping of solar permit fees. 

These fees used to be at the whim of local governments and city officials, but this new bill stamps that out and ensures a standardized cost across the entire state.

The amount you pay depends on the type of solar installation you get:

  • Residential solar systems in Colorado pay $500 for a permit
  • Commercial solar systems in Colorado pay $1,000 for a permit

What Happens If I Don’t Get a Solar Permit?

If you skip the permit step and go straight into installing your solar system, then you’re playing with fire. Here’s what could happen:

  • You could face hefty fines or legal penalties
  • The installation could be rendered ineligible for any solar incentives and tax credits
  • Your utility company will likely refuse to connect your solar system to the grid
  • Your setup may not comply with safety codes and pose a big risk and danger to everyone around you

Of course, It should go without saying that if you have a contract with a solar developer, then they won’t set foot on your land with any solar equipment until you have a permit firmly in your grasp. 

While this bears no consequence to you particularly, delaying the permit application will also delay the whole project, meaning you will wait a whole load longer to start benefiting from solar.

In short, as soon as your solar developer tells you to go apply for your permit, get on it right away!

Want to Understand More About Solar Energy?

Getting solar energy needn’t be a complicated process, especially if you’ve got a trusted solar developer by your side.

At 8760 Solar, we’re well-versed in navigating the complex processes and paperwork you need to wade through to get your solar installation up and running, and what’s more, we do it all for you so you don’t have to. In fact, any reputable solar developer will take care of this on your behalf.

Our aim is to ensure all our clients can start enjoying the benefits of solar energy as fast as possible, even if you do have to wait a few extra weeks for a permit. And as Colorado moves to a streamlined permitting process, soon, there won’t be a wait time at all!

All it takes to get started is a conversation with our team. Text “READY” to 719 470-0254 or contact us via email: sales@8760solar.com and we’ll answer you right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Solar Permit Fees, Colorado?

The solar permit fees are what you pay to obtain a permit for a solar energy installation in Colorado. The fee is either $500 for a residential solar system or $1,000 for a commercial installation.

Do You Need a Permit to Sell Solar in Colorado?

Any type of solar installation in Colorado – whether you plan to sell your excess solar power to the grid or not – requires a permit. The permit must be obtained before any installation work is completed and you could face a fine or legal implications if you fail to do this.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Solar Permit?

Presently, the permit application process differs between all the counties and cities in Colorado. In Denver, it can take an hour, while in other areas it can take several weeks.

However, a bill was passed in 2023 mandating that all cities and counties adopt a streamlined process, which means the wait times are set to shorten significantly.

Can I Get a Solar Permit After I’ve Installed the Solar Panels?

No. A solar permit must be obtained before any of the installation process takes place. If you fail to get a permit beforehand, you may face legal implications and/or a hefty fine, and other problems.

What is Solar APP+?

Solar APP* (or Solar Automated Permit Processing+) is a web-based software program that automates and standardizes the solar permitting process for local governments. Using the Solar APP+ platform results in a much faster and a more efficient and accurate permitting process.

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