Permitting and Installation
The New York City permitting and system interconnection process is designed to ensure the quality and safety of a solar installation. Depending on the project, different approvals and permits will be required. Solar installers usually coordinate the permitting process (Installer Resources page). After you have chosen an installer and signed a contract, they will work with New York State licensed professionals to submit drawings with the permit applications. The installer will also file with Con Edison, or LIPA, for interconnection approval.
Once your installer has secured all of the necessary permits, the actual solar installation is a relatively quick process. Residential solar installations typically take one or two days to complete, and commercial systems can be installed in a few weeks. Here are the steps for installing a typical solar electric system:
Racking/Mounting: Solar panels are mounted on a racking system that secures them to the roof and positions them at the desired tilt angle for capturing solar energy.
Wiring: The solar installer and electrician will run the necessary wiring and install electrical equipment to ensure system performance and safety.
Commissioning: The solar installer and electrician will test the system and inspect their work for quality and safety. Finally, they will schedule inspections with the New York City Department of Buildings and the electric utility (Con Edison or LIPA). Once the inspections are complete, you are ready to generate solar power.
NYC Department of Buildings (DoB)
The NYC DoB is responsible for permitting the construction and electrical work associated with a solar PV system and the construction and plumbing work associated with a solar hot water heating system. They are also the city agency responsible for safety as well as for enforcing zoning regulations for Department of City Planning and Landmarks Preservation Commission as well as the fire code.
The Partnership has placed a Solar Ombudsman at the DoB to aid with issues arising related to building permits.
New York City residents are served by either Con Edison or Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). The utility that delivers your electricity is responsible for ensuring your solar system can safely connect to New York City's electrical grid.
Con Edison has an explanation of the installation process on their website.
LIPA has a helpful Solar Customer Checklist available on their site.
100 Days of Solar
Sustainable CUNY is working with Con Edison and several city agencies through the ‘100 Days of Solar’ program to develop a prototype of an online inter-agency permitting system, a ‘Virtual Agency’ which, when combined with solar mapping and data monitoring, has the potential to revolutionize how New York City measures, targets and deploys all clean energy resources in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. The initial goal is for the solar installation process for New York City projects to be completed in 100 days.