Here in the Energy Office of the Office of Sustainability (OOS), we have been working on several solar and renewable energy initiatives that we’re excited to highlight. We touched on some of them in our solar blog series last year (see parts one and two), and we’re excited to share our progress since then. OOS has been working to encourage and grow the local solar and renewable energy market. That work has focused on solar “soft costs,” and renewable energy projects that the City is considering.

Since 2011, the OSS and the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) have worked together to improve the solar permitting process. This work was re-visited in 2016 to update the City’s expedited solar permit standard. The expedited solar permit standard allows small solar projects for one- and two-family dwellings that are 10 kW or less in size the following benefits:

  • Proceed with only an electrical permit (rather than also requiring a building permit).
  • Follow an expedited permit processing time, L&I has committed to processing expedited solar permit applications within 5 days.

In fall 2016, the City achieved SolSmart Bronze designation and is working towards achieving Gold designation. The U.S. Department of Energy’s SolSmart program is a national recognition and a no-cost technical assistance program for local governments designed to drive greater solar deployment. The City of Philadelphia was also awarded a six-month SolSmart Advisor housed in the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). The Advisor will help Philadelphia achieve Gold designation, and help seven other communities in the Delaware Valley to achieve SolSmart designation. Keep an eye on our solar web page for more resources we’re working on with our Advisor.

In November 2016, the City’s Energy Office in partnership with the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) released a Request for Information (RFI) regarding project structures that would make renewable energy development projects feasible for the City. Examples of the types of projects the PEA and the City were seeking to understand further included: solar power on City facilities, off-site renewable power purchase agreements, and other alternative technology applications. Twenty-two responses were submitted providing information on all three types of projects that were outlined as examples in the RFI. The City is now working on next steps and outlining a project framework to cost-effectively supply a portion of the City’s electricity consumption with renewable energy.

Learn how you can help support renewable energy and other environmental programs in Philadelphia through our City of Philadelphia Action Guide. To stay up-to-date on our solar initiatives, send us an email at to join our monthly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.