The city of Los Angeles has launched an online permitting system for solar panels, seeking to streamline the process and reduce costs for homeowners.
Previously, those installing the systems had to go to a Department of Building and Safety office, with plans in hand, to apply for a permit, then wait days for approval, said department spokesman Luke Zamperini.
But now, it's possible to receive permits for solar photovoltaic systems directly from the department's website, the mayor's office said in a news release this week.
Zamperini said the time for approval has been slashed to minutes.
At the moment, the online permit system can process 75% of all solar photovoltaic permits for single-family homes and duplexes, according to the mayor's office. By the end of the year, the system is expected to handle 95% of permits.
Since launching the system as a pilot program in July, the department has issued more than 250 permits.
Building and Safety inspectors have also received additional training which allows them, instead of the Fire Department, to verify certain requirements --a streamlining that the mayor's office says will reduce time and costs for homeowners.
"The work done by the Department of Building and Safety, together with ongoing customer service improvements for solar customers underway at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, will cut costs and help create local jobs in the city's growing solar installation industry," Garcetti said in a news release.
"The other half is at the Department of Water and Power, which approves both the rebate for the rooftop solar system as well as the interconnection inspection and approval," she said in an email.
The DWP acknowledged that it needed to do better and in March announced plans to double its staff for rebate processing, hire more workers for its hotline and look for other ways to improve its approval process.
The agency said the average time frame for most customers in early August was down to eight to nine weeks.
But late last month, The Times reported that some frustrated customers were waiting far longer to get their solar panels up and running.
The delays and Los Angeles' onerous approval process hampered solar installations, homeowners and industry officials said.
Times staff writer Chad Garland contributed to this report.