LIPA to institute streamlined solar permit process

COURTESY PHOTO | A new intitative could make obtaining permits for solar power much easier.

North Fork residents may soon have a chance to take advantage of a streamlined permitting process for solar powered panel installations on their homes, Long Island Power Authority officials announced last week.

The Long Island Unified Solar Permitting Initiative, sponsored by LIPA and the Nassau and Suffolk County Planning Commissions, could soon replace the need for permits currently issued by towns and villages.

The new permit would have a “waived or minimal” application fee and residents would receive a decision on whether the permit was approved within 14 days of submitting their application, LIPA officials said in a release last week.

The planning commissions would create a new “Solar Energy System Fast Track Permit Application” for solar electric and solar hot water heating systems.

LIPA hopes to have the plan in place by the end of the year and is offering $15,000 to towns and $5,000 to each of the first ten villages who sign up for the program to help the local governments implement the changes.

“Eliminating the red tape from green energy will allow our customers to have a better experience during the permitting and installation process,” said LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey in the release. “In addition, I expect LIUSPI to act as a catalyst to encourage more homeowners to take advantage of LIPA’s solar programs and save money, while at the same time helping to foster new jobs in the local solar market.”

The new intiative is pending the approval of local municipalities.

“I don’t really have a problem moving forward with it,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who discussed the new permit with the Southold Town Board at a work session Sept. 27. The Town Board referred the code to a building inspector for review.

Mr. Russell said among the issues facing homeowners interested in solar power are the expense of having an engineer certify the installation and determining whether surveys should be required. He said that many towns waive the requirements for surveys because solar panels don’t affect the portions of the property that are measured in land surveys.

Democratic Southold Town Board candidate Marie Domenici told the Town Board at a Sept. 27 public meeting that she was in favor of the proposal.

“My only concern is that [solar energy rebates] could drop between now and the time they implement it,” she said.

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