Pima County creates new online ‘Solar Calculator’ to ease permit process for photovoltaic installationsWednesday, July 6th, 2011
Pima County, Ariz. – (July 6, 2011) Pima County’s department of Development Services now provides a new solar calculator, a one-of-a-kind spreadsheet tool devised to ease and speed the Building Code Review process.
The new calculator, created by Pima County’s Development Services staff, in a Microsoft Excel format, makes it quicker and easier to get a permit from the county for a photovoltaic installation.
The solar photovoltaic calculator is available at the county’s Development Services website, http://www.dsd.pima.gov/building/ under the heading: “Forms & Calculators.”
The calculator provides a formula for determining the proper specifications for submitting a successful permit application to the county for photovoltaic installations that will provide solar energy.
The solar calculator was created to meet the needs of those seeking county building permits for solar installations, said Yves Khawam, the county’s chief building official in the Development Services Department.
Khawam said the calculator was devised to address inconsistencies and errors in submittals for these solar permits. The solar calculator is in the form of an Excel spreadsheet and allows the user to fill in the blanks.
The calculator application is unique and not available in commercial software, Khawam said. Using it speeds the process for approval of a county solar installation permit, he said.
The spreadsheet allows clients to design their photovoltaic systems and ensure the systems comply with county codes and procedures.
The calculator helps each county client to check precisely the structural and electrical loads, ratings and sizes of equipment, devices, conductors and conduits for compliance with Pima County codes and procedures. The calculator makes it possible for clients to plan for electrical lines that will be compliant with county codes.
The availability of the solar calculator should limit permitting and processing costs to a maximum of $150 per residential install, which is just six percent of the national average, Khawam said.
The cost can be reduced further by using the Pima County Development Services’ online permitting process. Information on the online permitting process is at: http://www.dsd.pima.gov/Documents/Building/General%20Information.pdf
The solar calculator allows clients to print out and then submit to the county the proper electrical line drawings that will comply with Pima County codes. Submittal criteria, standard operating procedures, and all online permitting information, are available at www.dsd.pima.gov/building.
To find the calculators, click on Building Permitting.
Go to: “Checklist/Process,” “Design Guidelines,” “Online Permitting,” and then, “Forms & Calculators. There you’ll find the two versions of the photovoltaic calculator.
Here are the direct links to the calculator, which is provided in a standard and micro application:
The creation of the solar calculator marks another phase of county solar-permitting process improvements that got under way in 2006. That is when Pima County Development Services devised a method for setting up solar equipment on existing roofs without requiring engineered analyses.
The new solar calculators were introduced to electricians and others at a Regional Solar Permitting Workshop held on June 29, 2011 for the industry. The workshop was organized by Pima County Solar One Stop, http://www.solaronestopaz.org/. This website, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant, provides solar energy information to residents, visitors, business owners, developers, architects, construction companies and solar installers.