Charging for Solar Panel and EV Charger Permits

In Spokane, the City Council has decided to bring back fees for permits required to set up solar panels, stations for charging electric vehicles (EVs), and energy storage units. This change follows a period where the city didn’t charge these fees, hoping to get more people to use renewable energy options. We’re going to take a look at what this decision means and why it was made.

The Council’s Move

Councilman Jonathan Bingle and Michael Cathcart were behind the law that stopped the fee waivers. The council agreed on this together and plans to start charging the fees again in June of this year. With this, there’s a new direction for how Spokane deals with renewable energy.

History: No Fees Leads to More Solar Power

Back in 2018, Spokane’s City Council was really pushing for renewable energy. They got rid of the costs for permits when you wanted to install solar panels or EV chargers. The idea was to make Spokane greener. It worked—for a while there were lots of new solar panel setups.

  • 2019 saw 73 permits for solar panels given the green light.
  • That number jumped by a lot—to 605 in 2022.
  • Then, things slowed down a bit to 435 in 2023.

This spike in solar power was great but it put pressure on both the Development Services and the Fire departments—they handle the permits and safety checks. Without the fees, these departments’ budgets took a hit.

The Consequences and Cash Matters

The point of asking for permit fees again is partly because not having them was costing these city departments too much. Based on what they’ve calculated, Spokane missed out on collecting over

Last year, the city lost $200,000 from doing away with these fees. More inspections, mostly because of systems that weren’t set up right, made more work and higher costs for the city.

Controversy and Opposition

Not all folks agreed with the choice to stop the fee waivers. Some thought the city needed to do more to push for making renewable energy, with climate change getting worse. The Sustainability Action Subcommittee’s Steering Committee, which has three members, sent out a letter. They were worried that cutting the perks for going green could be a bad move for our pockets in the long run.

Amendment to Address Concerns

Hearing what the Steering Committee said, Councilman Jonathan Bingle brought in a change. It cut down the price for getting a solar panel permit by a lot. The city’s also setting up a new thing called Solar App+, which will make plan checks quicker for just $25. This will help lower the cost for getting solar panels up and running.

Councilman Bingle said, “We’re still looking at dropping the fee by about 60-75%. That should still cover the time our staff works on these.”

New Energy Storage System Fee

With the return of solar panel fees, there’s also a fresh $50 charge for putting in energy storage units. These gadgets, that save energy from your solar panels and let you use it later like at night, are becoming a big deal.

Commitment to Renewable Energy

Even with these new charges, Spokane’s still pushing hard for more renewable energy across town. That means saying yes to fuels like biodiesel and natural gas, and helping public transit switch to electric buses and cars.

Conclusion

The call to bring back city fees on stuff like solar panels, car chargers for electric vehicles, and big batteries show how Spokane’s changing ’cause of clean energy. At first, getting rid of these fees made more people use them. But then, the money stuff got tough for the city’s offices, so things had to change. Now they’re tweaking the rules and making things smoother. They want to get it just right: push for green power, but watch the cash too.

 

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