Patience is a virtue: A data-driven analysis of rooftop solar PV permitting timelines in the United States

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





Local permitting can ensure the safe installation and operation of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. At the same time, burdensome local permitting processes and local variation in requirements may pose challenges to PV deployment. In this article, we explore new data on the durations between key steps in the PV permitting process in the United States. The data suggest that a typical customer can expect to wait around 25–100 days from permit application until an installed system passes inspection. Permit durations vary significantly across jurisdictions, due in part to differences in local permitting policies. However, permit durations vary as significantly within jurisdictions as across them, in part due to significant variation across installers, suggesting that installer strategies and practices play an important role in permitting timelines. Permit durations have declined over time, reflecting progress from permit streamlining policies and jurisdiction learning-by-doing, though durations have stabilized in recent years. The data suggest that typical PV customers still face long and uncertain permitting timelines in the United States.


Energy Policy



Year of Publication




An open-access version of this article published in Energy Policy can be downloaded here. A webinar discussing this research recorded on June 18, 2020, can be viewed here


Research Areas

Related Files