In addition, the DOE with its new Plug & Play initiative is funding the development of a wide range of pre-configured PV systems that can be selected, purchased, installed, and commissioned by a homeowner within one day – all without the need for inspections or contractors.
Greg: I can explain the Twp permitting process for solar, and hope that some comments are made with respect to this.
Residential: Electrical & Building permit applications required, along with two (2) sets of plans. Engineer signoff required for rack & panels (roof loads). Electrical plan may be by NJ Lic EC. Plan review process by Bldg & Elec usually completed in approx 5-7 days.
However, with the ECs that do not submit correct, compliant plans & application, the 'wait' can take as long as it takes them to provide compliant paperwork.
Comm jobs usually turn around in 7-10 days also.
Fees are excessive or high?? An average resi fees out at $140-$170. The Bldg permit is usually <$100. Two (2) inspections are required (Resi) for each (Elec & Bldg) unless the 'red tag' happens.
Comm fees are hard to 'average', ranges from <$1000 to $15K Naturally, there are numerous inspections. A <5MW probably had 40+/- inspections.
It may only be used for water heating today, but how many installations have grown over the years to include all sorts of 'extra' loads? We might as well do it right the first time and never have to worry about it again.
All parts are supposed to be 'listd', and the submittals for plan review usually are OK. That's not to say that issues do not arise in the field.
As the solar installers that are experienced improve the learning curve, the field issues are reduced or eliminated. When you have a 'newbie' doing solar, the issues start at plan review and continue in the field.
One comm job has not called for any inspections, and on a drive by visit (unscheduled stop) many issues were noted. They called in one inspection for trench/PVC for a new POCO pad mount transformer, which I went on. I told the foreman that multiple roof and raceway inspections are required, and a safe access to the roof is required. No responses yet. After the holidays, a $2k notice of violation will be processed IF no inspections are scheduled.
Back on track, the 'listing' issues that stick in my memory was related to grd lugs & hardware that was not the items within the specs. A large quantity were mounted on the pans & rails and after a week+ of emails, they had to change out all of them. Lugs they used were not approved/listed for exterior or exposed to the elements, per the paper that the mfg supplied. That was not a cost effective purchase.
Greg: I know of only two (2) solar water heater installs in my Twp, neither of which I have any knowledge of. One is at a Church office bldg (before my time in town) and the other is a resi with 8 panels & a plug-in circ pump.
John is right about everything being listed. There are some inspectors who will not go on the roof, however they can still do a "rough" inspection on the ground and look at all of the listed and labeled equipment. Also you can get an idea of how they are going to wire it up and stop them from doing something wrong before they do it and get red tagged.