Owners of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and solar water heating systems in Arizona are required to obtain a building permit before their systems may be installed. Permits are handled at the local level and awarded by counties and municipalities. Traditionally, counties and municipalities in Arizona have been free to adopt their own requirements and assign their own fees for a permit. With exceptions, these fees are generally derived from a formula that takes into account the cost and size of the project along with the cost of conducting inspections. H.B. 2615, signed in May 2008, established specific standards for the way permits are awarded for PV and solar water heating installations throughout Arizona and applied rules to govern the fees municipalities and counties can charge for a permit.
Municipalities and counties in Arizona may no longer require a stamp from a professional engineer to approve a solar system installation, which can raise the cost of a permit, unless such a certification is deemed necessary. In cases where an engineering stamp is deemed necessary, the city or county must provide the permittee with a written explanation of why the stamp is necessary.
Any building or permit fee assessed by a county or municipality for solar construction must be directly attributable to and defray the expense of the service for which the fee is charged. Rather than using the permit fee as a vehicle to increase revenue, the city or municipality may only charge the permittee exactly what it costs them to issue a permit. Further, before adopting a standard permit fee, the county or municipality must hold a public hearing with at least fifteen days of public notice.