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Increasing residential solar installations in California: Have local permitting processes historically driven differences between cities?

White, Lee V.
Energy policy 2019 v.124 pp. 46-53
cities, climate change, data collection, databases, electricity, households, issues and policy, laws and regulations, local government, models, solar cells, solar energy, California
Local governments are agile policy makers expected to make significant contributions to climate change mitigation through local legislation. One mitigation mechanism available to local governments is to make it easier for households to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that generate emission-free electricity. Streamlining PV permitting policies is currently being promoted in states such as California as a way to boost rates of residential solar installation. Fixed effects modelling is used to examine whether streamlining permitting for PV increased rates of PV installations in California prior to 2013. To fill a gap in longitudinal data on implementation dates of local policies to support PV, a combination of surveys, partial databases, and publicly available city-level information is utilized to build a complete picture of changes in relevant policies from 2005 to 2013. Modelling results are unable to reject the null hypothesis that the implementation of streamlined permitting has no effect on residential PV installation rates. This highlights the limitations of what can be assessed given the current sparsity of data on city-level policy changes even employing significant original data collection and compilation.