Richmond VA > Sustainability > Solar

Last Updated: 2017-10-09

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Solar

As part of its RVAgreen 2050 initiative, the city of Richmond is seeking ways to enhance the amount of solar energy in our community. By providing educational resources and information, we hope to reduce barriers and make it faster, easier and less expensive for our community to go solar.

Solar Projects - Permits

Permit Applications

For residential or commercial solar projects, applicants should use the Electrical Permit Application. If your permit application requires a plan submittal, you must use a thumb drive or CD. No paper submissions will be accepted.

Application Checklist

For helpful information, refer to the Electrical Handout Checklist and the Electrical Plan Review Requirements.

Permit Fees

Refer to the Permits Fee Schedule for the electrical permit fee. It is based on the cost of the solar PV system.

Submit Permit Application

To file the permit application, submit your information and payment in person at the City's Bureau of Permits and Inspections, City Hall, 900 E. Broad St. Hours: M-F 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. Call (804)646-4169 with questions.

Permit Status

Go to Permits Web Inquiry the City of Richmond's Online Permitting System to review the status of your permit application. Please select "Plan" on the menu and search. If you are looking for the status of an issued permit, please select "Permit" on the menu and search.

Inspection

After the project is installed, contact the city's Bureau of Permits and Inspections to schedule an inspection (804)646-4169. Go to Permits Web Inquiry the City of Richmond's Online Permitting System to review the status of your inspection. Inspection results are currently being posted as they occur and are emailed to the permit holder the same day.

Solar Projects - Zoning

Permitted Accessory Use

In the City of Richmond, property owners are able to install solar panels as an accessory use on the property in all zoning districts. Solar panels are considered an accessory use and relevant setbacks will be imposed. The City of Richmond allows solar panels as accessory mechanical applications (just like an A/C unit or something similar) in the side yard or on the roof.

Accessory structures cannot be in the front of a dwelling (in the front yard) and, for this reason, would not be permitted at that location if it was the only viable location to access the sun. In these situations, it is possible to seek special approval from City Council.

Advisory Determination: Accessory Uses Solar Panels

This Letter of Determination clarifies that solar panels are an accessory use to a permitted primary use building or structure and permitted by right in all zoning districts.

Accessory Use Definition

Per Zoning Sec. 30-1220, accessory use means a use of land or use of a structure or building for purposes incident and subordinate to the principal use of the premises.

Old and Historic Districts

For property within the city's Old and Historic Districts, a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Commission of Architectural Review is required for any exterior changes including the installation of solar panels that are visible from a public place or a public right of way which includes streets, sidewalks, and alleys.

The Commission has guidelines for the installation of solar panels in Chapter 3 of its Handbook and Design Review Guidelines for Old and Historic Districts of Richmond Viriginia which emphasize locating the panels to be minimally visible from the public right of way and installing the panels in a method that is reversible and does not compromise the historic integrity of the structure or the historic district. (See Chapter 3, Building Elements, Roofs)

Information about the guidelines, the application process, and how to determine if a property is within a City Old and Historic District can be found on the Commission of Architectural Review website.

Special Use Permit Required

If solar panels are providing off-site power, they are not considered an accessory use. In that situation, a special use permit is required. For more information about the special use permit process, go to the Department of Planning & Development Review Land Use Administration website.

Solar Potential

See the Solar Potential for Richmond

Find the Solar Potential for Your Home or Property

Estimate the performance of potential PV projects

Solar At Home

Solar At Work

Solar In the Community

Contact Information:

Richmond City Sustainability
730 E. Broad St., 8th Floor
Richmond, VA
23219 USA
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Phone: 311 or (804)646-7000

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