Solar Permitting

Pepperell Solar Permitting & Inspection Checklist

The Town of Pepperell encourages the safe and efficient installation of solar energy systems through its permitting and inspection process.  All photovoltaic installations require both a building permit and an electrical permit from the Town. Large ground-mounted arrays constructed as the principal use on a lot may also require Planning Board approvals. 

Residential solar projects and all roof-mounted commercial systems are handled as expedited projects and will receive a decision or a request for additional information within three business days of the Town’s receipt of the application.  Commercial ground-mounted projects will receive a decision or request for additional information within 10 business days in most cases.
 
This checklist, intended for solar installers, walks you through the steps.

1. Contract: Have a signed contract in hand before starting the permit process.

2. Apply for a Building Permit and an Electrical Permit

a. Go to the Building Department’s section of the Town’s website to download the two forms you’ll need to fill in: the building permit application is at  http://town.pepperell.ma.us/DocumentCenter/View/2928; the electrical permit application is at http://town.pepperell.ma.us/DocumentCenter/View/2764.

b. The installer will have to fill in the two forms and mail them with the following materials to the Building Department or deliver the whole package in person to the Town Hall.

c. Items to include with the permit applications:

  • The jobsite address and owner information
  • Copy of the contract, signed by property owner and installer [?]
  • Plans for the installation
  • The installers’ licenses
  • A stamped and signed engineer’s affidavit that the building’s roof can support the load
  • Certificates of liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance
  • Estimate of the project’s cost
  • Permit fees.  

d. The permit fee schedule is here:  http://town.pepperell.ma.us/481/Fee-Schedule.

  • Residential projects require a building permit fee of $80 and an electrical permit fee of $95 for a total of $175.  If trenching is required for electric systems, there shall be an additional $50 fee.
  • Commercial projects require a building permit fee of $150 per 100 panels installed.  The fee this formula generates includes a $100 fee for each electrical inspection that may be required.
  • Solar farms require a building permit fee of $10 per $1,000 of construction cost.  The fee this formula generates includes a $100 fee for each electrical inspection that may be required.

3. Internal Staff Review

  • Once the completed application is received at Town Hall, the Building Department checks with the Town Tax Collector to ensure that all property taxes are up to date.  
  • If the proposed system is to be ground-mounted, the Conservation Administrator will ensure that the panels are not proposed for protected areas.  Ground-mounted panels must be a minimum of 10 feet from the side and rear property lines and meet the required front yard setback for the district.
  • The Building Inspector will review the application and award or reject the permit.
  • The staff notifies the Pepperell Fire Department of the pending installation so the department can track buildings with solar installations.
  • Staff notifies the installer, generally by mail, that the Town has completed its review.  
  • These steps are usually completed within 24 hours of the receipt of the application.  

4. Inspections

  • After receiving notification that the permit application has been approved, the installer completes the installation.  He or she then calls the building inspector to schedule an inspection.  The inspector will offer a specific time for the appointment (usually early in the morning) and will check the structural components of the installation and sign the building card.
  • Once the installation has passed the building inspection, the installer schedules an appointment for a specific time with the Town’s electrical inspector who will then ensure that the installation was completed as planned.  All inspections are completed within 10 days of the initial request for an appointment.
  • The electrician who supervised the installation must be on site for the inspection.
  • The electrical inspector will issue the final permit allowing the installer to proceed with the utility to turn the system on and connect it to the grid.

5. Grid Interconnection

  • The installer will manage the interconnection process directly with National Grid.  The Town is not involved in this crucial step in the process.