Solar and Renewable Energy

The City of Bellingham’s Permit Center encourages renewable energy with streamlined processes and efficient rules. In 2009 Bellingham created the first photovoltaic building permit exemption program in Washington State. The program eliminated the need for a building permit and engineering for almost all residential solar installations, saving about $2,000 in fees and two weeks for permit review time. The structural provisions of Bellingham’s solar system permit exemption policy was recently adopted virtually verbatim by the State of Washington to encourage solar installations.

The City also excludes the cost of the solar panels when determining permit fees for non-residential buildings. In addition, solar projects qualify for a fast-track review process moving review of solar projects to the head of the line. Streamlined permitting and experienced local installers have put Bellingham into the lead in the region in residential installed systems per capita.

For further information, please read these Technical Assistance Bulletins:

Renewable Energy Incentives

Substantial incentives and rebates are available for renewable energy projects that meet certain conditions. The largest state incentives are available for systems that include Washington state components. This Solar Guide from Northwest Solar Communities provides an overview of incentives and financing. (Note that the federal tax credit was recently extended). Information on state incentives are located here (See “Renewable Energy/Green Incentives.”)

Wind Power

Wind projects are also eligible for expedited permitting and eligible for state incentives listed here.


​Planning & Community Development Department

210 Lottie Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Phone: (360) 778-8300
Fax: (360) 778-8301
TTY: (360) 778-8382
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays. (New applications accepted until 4pm)