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Bureau of Development Services Announces Upcoming Solar Photovoltaic System (PV) Permit Fee Increases


City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services


September 27, 2010

Contact: Ross Caron, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.4268

(Portland, OR) For the past several years the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) has played a key role in supporting the City-Wide goal of increasing the installation of clean energy systems by offering incentives for solar electric and solar hot water systems. These incentives included keeping building permit fees associated with the installation of clean energy systems at a minimal level and the streamlining and standardizing of the building permit process for applicants. A strong working relationship between industry groups, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the State of Oregon has also been developed.

The result of these incentives has been timely and extremely low cost permitting for residential clean energy system projects within the City of Portland that meet prescriptive installation requirements. Over the course of the last two years, the number of issued solar permits has increased from fewer than 60 a year to more than 300 this year. This increase in clean energy systems demonstrates a success for the City, clean energy system customers and industry partners.

As evidenced by the increased number of permits, solar PV systems have become a meaningful option for many in Portland. With the combination of growth in clean energy options and the decline in most other segments of the construction industry, BDS has had to reevaluate its ability to provide financial incentive for this program by maintaining low fees on solar PV system permits. BDS has concluded that it is necessary to return to charging standard permit fees for prescriptive solar PV systems. Permit fees for prescriptive solar hot water permits will remain at their current rate.

To minimize the impact of collecting standard fees for prescriptive solar PV system permits, BDS will be phasing in the increases in two steps with the first increase to $347.02 effective October 18, 2010 and the second increase to $448.50 effective January 17, 2011. This stepped increase should allow industry partners to complete year-end permitting and installations with certainty regarding BDS fees. Separate electrical permits are still required.

We appreciate the understanding and patience of our customers and the community while we implement these changes. If you are interested in other changes that have occurred at the BDS, a complete list of the Bureau's Service Level Updates is available online at by clicking on "Service Level Updates."

If you have any questions, please contact Ross Caron, BDS Public Information Officer, at or (503) 823-4268.



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