In 2013, the City of Chicago streamlined and standardized the permitting and zoning process for rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Small and large rooftop PV generators can now access the City of Chicago Easy Permit Process. Qualifying projects can receive same-day permit approvals (a process that used to take 30 days) at a reduced fee of $275 (down from $375).
There are separate steps for small and large rooftop systems. Small rooftop solar PV systems are those generating less than 13.44 kilowatt (kW). Large rooftop solar PV systems are those generating greater than 13.44 kW.
Along with the Easy Permit Process, Chicago’s Department of Buildings has published new permitting guidelines that allow general contractors to clearly demonstrate safe design of solar systems on all Chicago building types, leading to a reduction of engineering fees and potential savings of $2,000-$4,000 for qualifying solar projects.
The new City of Chicago Solar Zoning Policy gives clear guidance on how to design solar projects in accordance with the City’s zoning ordinance. In the EPP process, applicants are able to forgo a dedicated zoning review, saving time and money.
The process involves the selection of a licensed solar contractor with experience installing solar in Chicago and approval by the City of Chicago and ComEd. Interested applicants should view the program website for more information on the application process.