OpenGov Partners with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to Automate Home Solar Permitting

It gives me great pleasure to announce that OpenGov has been selected as a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to help local governments take advantage of their recently launched SolarAPP+ (Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus) software. This innovative solution will help more people gain access to solar and home batteries and also enable local governments to process permit applications much quicker than ever before.

By moving permitting processes online with OpenGov’s platform, this partnership with the NREL will support economic recovery in local governments and also support environmental-friendly initiatives in the battle against climate change. The NREL is especially excited to be able to offer the SolarAPP+ tool at no cost to existing OpenGov customers. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and supported by a broad coalition of solar industry partners, SolarAPP+ aims to standardize the instant permitting process across the United States and to align best practices in jurisdictions that are leading the way on residential solar and solar-plus-storage systems.

Most residential solar and solar-plus-storage systems are simple and standardized, but the sheer volume of applications can also be overwhelming. SolarAPP+ makes this workload manageable by running compliance checks on incoming applications and approving those that fit the SolarAPP+ standard. The time typically used on these cookie-cutter projects can be refocused on more complex ones that would not be SolarAPP+ eligible and would thus move through a typical plan review.

Furthermore, the SolarAPP+ solution will:

  • Use automated compliance checks to catch code issues, typos, and errors, thereby returning corrections to the applicant immediately.
  • Approve cookie-cutter permit applications to build instantly, while the tougher projects flow through a typical permitting review. Stale applications never require action.
  • Produce a checklist and long form of the application for inspectors to review.
  • Support solar and home battery systems to streamline the process for the growing number of people who are adding batteries to help keep their lights on during power outages.

By using SolarAPP+, local governments can relieve overburdened permitting departments, support local solar job creation, attract businesses to their communities, and increase fee revenue. In addition, SolarAPP+ can save residents money and allow solar rooftop projects to realize their potential as a major climate and resilience solution in the United States.

SolarAPP+ will drive further value to communities through an integration with the OpenGov Citizen Services suite.

OpenGov Citizen Services is a workflow automation solution that streamlines community development services, such as permitting, licensing, code enforcement, as well as other key government workflows. Featuring a public application portal seamlessly integrated with backend data collection and approval steps, Citizen Services delivers the industry’s most advanced platform to increase operational efficiency and improve service delivery to the community.

With many local governments relying on highly manual and paper-based processes, permit processing often leads to significant inefficiencies as staff members are frequently inundated with walk-ins and phone inquiries. OpenGov Citizen Services was designed to directly address these challenges by streamlining community development operations with robust, flexible forms, fees, inspections, and workflow automation. The solution also includes an intuitive public applicant portal that is fully integrated with backend data collection and form processing, providing better customer experience and more productive staff time.

Citizen Services’ no-cost integration with SolarAPP+ will streamline the entire process for issuing rooftop solar permits, from initial applications, on through compliance validation, backend approvals, and final issuance, resulting in decreased staff workloads and an overall improved customer engagement.

The announcement of the partnership between OpenGov and the NREL arrives with just around one month left for government leaders to take advantage of federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. With an end-of-year use-it or lose-it expiration deadline for these funds, governments across the nation are upgrading their ability to serve their communities with modern, innovative solutions like OpenGov Citizen Services and SolarAPP+.

For more information on how these solutions are driving greater efficiencies for local government permitting operations, please visit OpenGov’s and SolarAPP+’s product pages.

Category: OpenGov Updates

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