Denver Collaborates with NREL to Unveil SolarAPP+

The city of Denver’s Community Planning and Development (CPD) department is working with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to launch an online platform to speed up processing for solar photovoltaic (PV) applications. SolarAPP+ is a plan review software that can run compliance checks and process building permit approvals for eligible rooftop solar systems without requiring a city review.

Once registered as an installer with SolarAPP+, a licensed contractor can submit their project details through the tool, which will quickly review the information and return a confirmation to the contractor. The contractor can then upload the SolarAPP+ confirmation to the city’s online e-permits system, and the city will accept this as proof that the solar project has been designed to meet codes. The solar permit will then be issued in real time.

“Adopting SolarAPP+ will save our customers a significant amount of time in the permitting process and help safely bring these important projects to the market quicker,” said Laura Aldrete, executive director of Denver Community Planning and Development. “We are always looking for ways to innovate and create more efficiency for our customers, without sacrificing the quality of what’s being built or installed in Denver. This is a great example of the hard work our team has put into making permitting simpler and faster for our customers.”

The  CPD reports that in 2022, it approved 3,738 solar applications, of which about 70% may have been eligible to use SolarAPP+ to obtain a quick permit – a savings of approximately 1,240 hours of total review time by city staff. On average, these projects experienced review times of up to 30 days before a permit was issued. SolarAPP+ permits for eligible projects, on the other hand, will be issued instantly, allowing installation to begin up to 30 days earlier.

“The successful pilot in Denver proves that the SolarAPP+ model can be applied not just in Denver, but the rest of the state as well,” said Jeff Cook, SolarAPP+ program lead, NREL.