Installing Solar in Louisville

Adding solar panels to your home or business can be intimidating. Louisville Metro Government would like to make it as easy as possible. This page is designed to walk you through the steps necessary to successfully install residential and commercial solar.Solar panels on Butchertown Market

 

 

Design Specifications

The installation of solar panels on new or existing buildings is regulated within Louisville's Land Development Code (LDC) in Section 4.3.16. The LDC specifics that systems attached to a new or existing structure must follow the following regulations:

  • In residential districts, the system may not exceed ten feet above the maximum height within the underlying form district.
  • In residential districts no system shall be attached to the wall or side of a structure.
  • In non-residential districts, the system many not exceed 20 feet above the maximum height within the underlying form district.

The LDC specifies that freestanding systems shall not exceed the maximum building height of the underlying form district, and no more than 25% of the lot area may be covered with alternative energy systems and related equipment.


Installing Solar in Historic and Special-Use Districts

Plans for solar panel installations occurring in presentation districts must be reviewed by the Louisville Metro Government Office of Planning and Design. Most installation plans will be reviewed and approved within this framework. Under special circumstances, plans will be required to obtain permission from their districts' Architectural Review Committee (ARC). Each ARC relies follows the language in the Standard Design Guidelines (see exception for Clifton Preservation District below). 

Section R17 of the Standard Design Guidelines read “Do not attach antennae, satellite transmitters, skylights, vents, air conditioning units, decks, terraces, dormers, or solar panels that can be seen from a building’s primary elevation.” Most ARCs are willing to work with building and homeowners to identify an agreeable installation location.

The Clifton Preservation District uses a modified version of the Standard Design Guidelines used in other districts. The Roofing Section of the Clifton Preservation District Design Guidelines state that "Antennae, satellite dishes, skylights, vents, rooftop mechanical units, decks, terraces, dormers, or high-profile solar panels should not be installed where they can be seen from a building's street address facade or primary elevation.” Again, the Clifton ARC is willing to work with building and homeowners to identify agreeable installation locations.

If the property is located in a preservation district, the property owner or licensed contractor should apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness. The application for a Certificate of Appropriateness can be found here. More information on the approval process is available via the Landmarks-Certificate of Appropriateness User Guide.

More information on preservation districts is available on the Develop Louisville Division of Planning and Design's Historic Preservation webpage.


Obtaining a Permit for your Solar Installation

Obtaining permits for your solar installation is required by the Kentucky Building Code, which is seperate from the Land Development Code. Ground-mounted systems only require an electrical permit. Roof-mounted systems require an electrical permit and a simplified building permit. Download this checklist to make sure you have completed all permiting requirements. Details are also provided below.

Most building and electrical permits will be turned around in three days or less. Review the section on streamlined permitting for more information.

  • Electrical Permits 
    • To obtain an electrical permit, submit an application form using one of the methods in the table, below. 
    • Electrical permits are issued the same day as the application is submitted. Online applications receive a permit immediately. 
    • More information on electrical permits is available on the Develop Louisville, Division of Construction Review website
  • Simplified Building Permit
    • To obtain a simplified building permit, submit the following information using one of the methods in the table, below.
      • An application form
      • A simple diagram drawn to scale of the roof with panels shown in location and number. The diagram should also indicate the framing of the roof (e.g., 2x8’s at 16’’ with 12’ spans).
      • Manufacturer’s specifications (e.g., spec sheet) on the system including weight of the system and the attachment method.
      • Please Note: a structural engineer analysis will be required for very unique situations such as unusual framing or loading condition. This requirement will be determined on a case-by-case basis after the initial application.
    • Most simplified building permits can be obtained the same day the application is completed. Anticipate four to five business days for complete review and issuance of the simplified building permit. 
  • Fees
    • Fees for electrical and for simplified building permits start at $50. The building permit fee is calculated based on the square footage are of the solar panel system. Exact cost is confirmed during the review and payments are required at the time of permit issuance.
Permit Applicant Method for Submitting Permit Application
Property Owner In person at the permitting office located at 444 S 5th Street
Licensed Contractor

In person at the permitting office located at 444 S 5th Street

or

Mail the application to Develop Louisville, Division of Construction Review - Permits, 444 S 5th Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (electrical permit application, simplified building permit application)

or

Complete the application through the online permitting system 

  • Streamlined Permitting for Residential Rooftop and Ground Mount Systems
    • ​Simplified Building permits for residential rooftop systems will be turned around in three days or less provided:
      • A complete and authentic application package is submitted
      • The project is in accordance with engineering Best Management Practices
      • Documentation of existing roof specification’s ability to support the installation, signed and stamped by a licensed KY Professional Engineer or a licensed Architect, is submitted.
      • Certificate of Appropriateness, if one is required by Planning and Design Services for the project, is submitted
         

        *Please note, this is the only permit required for a residential ground mounted system.

        **Please note, applicants must also pass an electrical inspection after obtaining the permit and installation is complete.  Inspections are not guaranteed in the three day turnaround time.  For more information on inspections Request an Inspection webpage.

        ***Applicants that do not meet the criteria set-forth for streamlined permitting can still receive their electrical permit, it is just not guaranteed a three day turnaround.

    • Electrical permits for residential roof top and ground-mounted systems will be turned around in three days or less provided:
      • complete and authentic application package is submitted
      • The project is in accordance with Article 690 of the most recently adopted edition of the national electrical code.

*Please note, applicants will also need to obtain an electrical permit for the project.  Homeowners can submit application in person at the permitting office, whereas licensed contractors can submit in-person at the permitting office or on-line.  Those submitting complete and authentic applications are issued electrical permits the same day.  Projects must be in accordance with Article 690 of the most recently adopted edition of the national electrical code.  For more information on electrical permitting Division of Construction Review website.

**Please note, applicants must also pass both an electrical and building inspection after obtaining both permits and installation is complete.  Inspections are not guaranteed in the three day turnaround time.  For more information on inspections Request an Inspection webpage.

***Applicants that do not meet the criteria set-forth for streamlined permitting can still receive their simplified building permit, it is just not guaranteed a three day turnaround.

All other solar installations, including residential projects not meeting the streamlined criteria and all commercial projects require a qualified review for all required permits.


Completing an Inspection 

After your solar system is installed, an inspection is required. Information on how to request an inspection is available on the Develop Louisville, Division of Construction Review’s Request an Inspection webpage.

Expect a wait of three to four days for an inspection.  Times may vary depending on staff workload and complexity of the application. 


Choosing a Solar Installer

Please review these tips offered by the Louisville Sustainability Council and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

A list of local solar installers is available on the Louisville Sustainability Council webpage.


Connecting to the Grid


Solar Energy Financing Options 

Louisville’s Energy Project Assessment District (EPAD) program is a tool that allows property owners to repay private loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation measures through a voluntary assessment administered by the Jefferson County Sheriff in the same manner as a property tax bill. The program allows property owners to secure more favorable financing terms than with traditional financing mechanisms. Through the EPAD program, property owners may also finance up to 100 percent of an eligible project’s cost. Eligible property types include office, retail, industrial, agricultural, non-profits and multi-family residential units consisting of five (5) or more dwelling units. Commercial properties include for-profit businesses and non-governmental, non-residential, tax-exempt properties such as privately-operated community centers and hospitals.  

The Metropolitan Business Development Corporation (METCO) governs and distributes Metro Government's small business loans. The Go Green Loan allows small businesses to take advantage of a below market-rate incentive program aimed at increasing energy efficiency and creating “green” jobs. These loans can be used for installing solar panels, energy-efficiency upgrades, or businesses creating green products or services.

The Investment Tax Credit is a 30% federal tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. Please discuss this option with your tax advisor to see if this option is applicable to your situation. 


Solar Rights

Kentucky policy related to protecting rights of property owners to install solar and solar system owners' right to sunlight on their property is covered under 2009 Kentucky Revised Statute, under Chapter 381 - Title to Property and Restrictions on Use, Ownership, and Alienation:

381.200 Deeds construed to include buildings and appurtenances -- Solar easements

(1) Every deed, unless an exception is made therein, shall be construed to include all buildings, privileges and appurtenances of every kind attached to the lands therein conveyed.
(2) A solar easement may be obtained for the purpose of ensuring access to direct sunlight. Such easement shall be created in writing and shall be an interest in real property that may be acquired and transferred and shall be subject to the same recording and conveyancing requirements, except that a solar easement shall not be acquired by prescription.


Louisville Metro Government Supports Solar Energy

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