RICHMOND -- The price for a permit to outfit your home with solar panels just plunged in the city.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to slash permit prices for residential solar panel installations from $615 to $100, a move city leaders said was an effort to jump-start solar investments in local neighborhoods.

"We are trying to make a statement," Councilman Tom Butt said.

At $100, Richmond's price becomes the lowest in the Bay Area, tied with neighboring El Cerrito.

Richmond is one of the leading cities to promote and implement green initiatives in recent years, including moves to halt the use of pesticides, construction of new bike paths and urban farms, and funding youth job training for green energy jobs, including solar installation.

Richmond is one of nine East Bay cities -- Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Hayward, Oakland and San Leandro are the others -- that have moved to streamline and reduce the cost of the permitting process.

But news reports clued in council members to the fact that Richmond's permits were the highest priced.

"Reducing the fee became clearly a good idea," Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said.

City Planning Director Richard Mitchell said the city issued 90 permits in the past year, bringing in about $55,000 in revenue. The reduction in price will mean the next 90 permits will bring in about $9,000 in revenue.

City leaders said the loss of revenue was a worthwhile expense if the reduced fees could induce more solar installations, especially in low-income neighborhoods.


Advertisement

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/sfbaynewsrogers.

---