County Announces Residential Solar Energy Permitting Process Improvement Efforts

County Announces Residential Solar Energy Permitting Process Improvement Efforts

solar panels against blue sky from pixabay

Prince William County Department of Development Services shared with Solar Energy Industry members it is working to develop and apply best practices to streamline the permitting process for solar energy systems applications for residential installations.

To date, over 600 Prince William County residents have taken advantage of solar energy power for use in their home. In 2019, some 253 homeowners submitted applications for residential solar energy equipment, which followed 147 homeowner applications received in 2018. The County offers Solar Energy Systems Tax Exemption for solar energy equipment, facilities, or devices.

In 2020, Governor Northam signed into law HB 1526/SB 851, the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), which established a thirty-year goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 and facilitated entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Wade A. Hugh, Director, Department of Development Services said: “We have made the solar energy systems home improvement process a priority. We want our permitting processes to be viewed by residents, contractors and the industry as an enhancement to the growth of solar energy systems in Prince William County.”

“The goal is to provide innovative solutions to the development process; to ensure the range of ever-evolving new technologies and adaptive uses are well known; building safety regulations are in place and well understood by service technicians, field inspectors; and the permit process is well defined and made clear with documents and checklists for those residential developers, home improvement contractors and residents who want to convert solar energy to solar power,” added Hugh.

Since January 2021, the County has worked towards its goal and made substantial effort to further improve the solar energy systems permitting process.

  • The Board of County Supervisors adopted the FY2022 budget, which included the creation of an Office of Energy & Sustainability. This shall allow the County to work towards its Climate Resolution goals, that were approved last November.
  • SolSmart has teamed up to share ways on how to become a Solar Friendly Community.
  • The Department’s Building Development Division has stood up a Process Action Team (PAT) in order to address all aspects of customer services and safety regulations across all federal, state and local codes, in concert with the SEIA. The PAT is also working towards completing the permitting section requirements associated with achieving a SolSmart bronze certification.

Solar power is energy (radiant light and heat), also known as electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun, that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and the U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world. Solar technologies can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

There are two main types of solar energy technologies – photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). The most familiar is PV, which is used in solar panels. Solar panel installations require permits and inspections are required for electrical and construction work, which must meet building safety code regulations.

Today, to obtain solar energy system permits, plans specifying the proposed solar equipment and design will be required. Customers shall expect to file for an electric permit, a structural or building permit and/or a dedicated solar photovoltaic (PV) permit, at a minimum. Find more information here:

Expect more information on this important collaborative initiative in the coming months. For more information on development services, log onto the new Development Services homepage at, email: or call (703) 792-6930. To stay up-to-date E-Sign Up to Customer Service Bulletins, find us @PWCDDS, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.