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. Find information on state incentives (See “Renewable Energy/Green Incentives.”)
- Homeowner’s Guide to Going Solar – Department of Energy
- Renewable Energy Options for your Home – Puget Sound Energy (PSE)
- Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit Explained
- Switch to Low-Carbon Electricity webpage
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)