Pro­vi­sion brings city in line with state on so­lar power sys­tems

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Front Page - By ALLISON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

PALM­DALE — The City Coun­cil on July 9 unan­i­mously adopted an or­di­nance to stream­line in­stal­la­tion of small res­i­den­tial so­lar power sys­tems, bring­ing the city’s mu­nic­i­pal code into align­ment with state law while main­tain­ing pro­vi­sions suited to Palm­dale’s con­di­tions, such as snow and wind.

The or­di­nance es­tab­lishes an ex­pe­dited per­mit process, with an elec­tronic ap­pli­ca­tion. Ap­pli­ca­tions that com­ply with a preap­proved check­list will re­ceive au­to­matic ap­proval, un­less the sys­tem is deemed to have “a spe­cific, ad­verse im­pact to pub­lic health and safety” by the city build­ing of­fi­cial.

The or­di­nance calls for pre-in­spec­tion of the sys­tem’s con­nec­tion to the roof to en­sure it is prop­erly and se­curely in­stalled.

This de­vi­a­tion from the state guide­lines is be­cause the build­ing of­fi­cial “feels very strongly that he needs to look at the in­stal­la­tion on the roof, the con­nec­tions to the roof”

due to po­ten­tial snow and wind loads and po­ten­tial for earth­quakes, City At­tor­ney Matthew Ditz­hazy said.

Mayor Pro Tem Austin Bishop dis­puted whether the pre-in­spec­tion was nec­es­sary, in ad­di­tion to the fi­nal in­spec­tion, as it would add time to com­plete the in­stal­la­tion to wait for a city in­spec­tor and there­fore act­ing against the guid­ance to stream­line the process.

“My main goal on here is to make sure the busi­nesses and the res­i­dents get their things done as easy and as quick as pos­si­ble,” he said, and he has had feed­back from so­lar com­pa­nies about in­spec­tion de­lays.

Ditz­hazy said the city has al­ready been op­er­at­ing un­der these con­di­tions and the pre-in­spec­tion time is very short. There have been few, if any, com­plaints about the process.

It is im­por­tant to in­spect the sys­tems be­fore they are com­plete to be able to ac­cu­rately see how the sys­tem is at­tached to the roof, said Mark Oyler, di­rec­tor of eco­nomic and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment, which over­sees the build­ing and safety func­tions.

“It’s very much about a pub­lic safety is­sue,” he said. “The key here is to pro­tect the res­i­dents of Palm­dale.”

He spoke of com­pa­nies that have mis­tak­enly at­tached the struc­ture through the sheet­ing in­stead of a beam, which makes the pan­els vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing pulled off in a strong wind. This kind of mis­take can only be caught dur­ing a pre-in­spec­tion, be­fore the pan­els them­selves are in place.

“It’s ac­tu­ally quite sim­ple when you take a look at what’s go­ing on out there,” Mayor Steve Hof­bauer said.

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