Even though lawmakers and regulators are providing major financial support to install 3,000 MW of solar systems on a million state rooftops, red tape at many city halls is hampering installations, according to a recent report. The hurdles are detailed in Taking the Red Tape Out of Green Power, a report released by the Network for New Energy Choices October 1. The report recommends simplifying permit processes for solar installations, waiving permit fees, and state training for local building department officials. The report also recommends streamlined local permits for small-scale wind turbines. Solar system installations should be handled through over-the-counter permits, according to Kyle Rabin, Network for New Energy Choices director, because they are fairly standardized. Some communities already do so, but others have barriers that can stretch the permitting process out for several months and add to the administrative cost of installing rooftop solar systems on homes and businesses. Such steps are needed, the report said, because the existing mish-mash of local permitting requirements and procedures is inconsistent and confusing. Its findings are echoed by solar installers. \u201cI burn up a huge amount of time in the permitting process,\u201d said Ken Krum, 1st Light Energy operations director. \u201cIt\u2019s probably 20-25 percent of our cost.\u201d Krum, for instance, recounted his ongoing effort since last spring to obtain an installation permit from the city of Newport Beach for a 1st Light client. He said that city building permit officials required him to provide a \u201cseismic study\u201d for installing rooftop panels that weigh 33 pounds each. The study was to show they would not overload the structure due to lateral forces typical in earthquakes, even though roofs are built light enough to provide sufficient margin. The study has added $1,000 to the cost of the job. In Westlake Village, said Krum, after getting a sign-off on a permit application, city officials then required him to do extra measurements and diagrams showing the exact margin between the perimeter of a solar system and the edge of the roof. While some cities put installers through such paces, others, like Modesto, provide permits over the counter, he said. Richard Dean, a Santa Barbara area solar installer, decided to quit the business. \u201cI love solar, and this would have been our best year,\u201d he said. \u201cBut instead of designing and installing systems our office spends the majority of its time processing rebates, preparing permit submittals, and dealing with corrections.\u201d He said he has to deal with five different permitting agencies in a 30 mile radius, all of which have different requirements and procedures. \u201cNow county fire has stepped in and is adding new requirements,\u201d said Dean. A state official pointed out that cities have to balance concerns about energy, fire safety, aesthetics, and building safety. \u201cThe fire marshal\u2019s office is concerned about the installation because it limits their access to the building,\u201d said Mike Nearman, California Building Standards Commission staff member. \u201cMany times [in a fire] they have to vent the roof.\u201d Others acknowledged that some state guidance could help \u201cWe do work closely with building departments around the state,\u201d said Rick Lopes, Contractors State License Board public affairs chief. He said that the board would be \u201chappy\u201d to add information about solar system installation in a building guidebook it publishes and distributes to local building officials if warranted.