The Nevada County Building Department recently collaborated with the development community, Nevada County Contractors’ Association (NCCA), and several other community stakeholders in developing a comprehensive off-grid solar policy for residential, commercial and agricultural improvements. “The off-grid solar policy comes at a time when members of our community need additional options for improving their self-sufficiency and reducing the cost of building in rural locations. Off-grid solar system provide an equivalent source of power that has been in use for decades.” - Nick McBurney, Nevada County Senior Building Plans Examiner.
Six (6) local solar contractors were involved in a series of meetings concerning the potential impact of various policy options and the results reflect their input and experiences. The policy clears the way for the installation of off-grid solar systems in suburban and rural areas without connecting to a commercial power source from PG&E, allows for off-grid solar systems on parcels that already have a PG&E electrical service, and includes detailed criteria for design and permitting. “Great thought and effort were put into this by both experienced building officials with an eye for future planning, as well as local contractors with a wealth of experience in off-grid energy applications. Nevada County was instrumental to the birth of both solar energy and off-grid energy systems, and we are proud to continue improving the safety and value placed in these systems.” – Joe Nelson, Project Manager, Sustainable Energy Group, Inc.
The rural nature of the Nevada County community and geography result in the abundance of rural residences and accessory buildings. With this comes the need for flexible, cost-effective and accessible sources of power that can meet property owner needs. Off-grid electrical systems composed of solar panels, battery storage systems and generators provide a source of power that is equivalent to a commercial electrical service in accordance with the California Building Standards Codes and provides additional benefits:
- Power is supplied during commercial power outages caused by storm events and scheduled Public Service Power Shut-off (PSPS) events.
- Once the initial cost of the system is paid for, there are no ongoing electrical costs other than regular system maintenance.
- Systems make it possible to develop sites in locations not served by commercial power sources.
- Current technology has been tested, listed, is reliable, and will last for the longevity of the structures with regular maintenance.
"Our community is unique when it comes to solar electric systems, as many corners of our county aren't served by electric utilities causing homeowners to seek "Off Grid" systems where they generate their own power using solar electric panels, generators, and store their power in batteries. With the gathering of local qualified contractors and culminating decades of experience designing and installing these systems, with the facilitation of Nevada Counties building department, we have clear guidance for homeowners who want to go "off grid". It's a huge win for our rural community and puts Nevada County on the leading edge toward the future of our industry." - Lars Ortegren, General Manager, California Solar Electric Cooperative.
For more information go to Nevada County Building Department - Off-Grid Solar. You may also contact the Nevada County Building Department directly at BuildingDept@co.nevada.ca.us or 530-265-1222, Option 1.