Accessory solar energy systems are allowed in all zoning districts in the City of Wauwatosa. Solar projects must meet all applicable codes, and relevant permits must be obtained from the City’s Building and Safety Division. Almost all solar projects will require an electrical permit. Additional permits may be required depending on the project. The permit counter of the Building and Safety Division is in City Hall and is open from 8:00am to 4:30pm, Monday to Friday.
The electric utility in Wauwatosa is We Energies. We Energies has their own process for commissioning of solar energy systems, and they should be contacted for details.
General Solar Permitting and Inspection Process
- Installer must have the proper state licensing, which may include electrical, building, plumbing, or other. The installer may be required to provide proof of insurance.
- An electrical permit will be required. The permit application is available online. It can be submitted at the permit counter along with the permit fee.
- For projects that do not require additional permits or building plans, the electrical permit will be issued within three business days.
- Roof-mounted residential solar photovoltaic projects generally do not require additional permits or building plans.
- Some projects do require additional permits and/or plans. For example:
- A ground mounted solar installation requires a site plan and may require a building permit.
- Commercial projects generally require full plans.
- Projects where the roof structure is modified generally require plans and a building permit.
- Solar hot water projects require a plumbing permit and may also require a mechanical or HVAC permit.
- Projects in a historic preservation zone may require additional review.
- For projects requiring plan review, the review may take up to 4 weeks.
- Every project is unique. For questions, please contact the Building and Safety Division.
- If the project involves digging, Diggers Hotline should be contacted at least 3 days prior to the start of the project (1-800-242-8511).
- Installer is responsible for meeting all applicable codes in their work. This includes structural and building codes, whether or not a building permit was required by the City.
- For instance, the installer is responsible for ensuring a roof is capable of supporting the additional weight and wind load associated with a rooftop solar array.
- Upon completion of the project, a final inspection will be performed. To schedule the inspection, call the Buildings and Safety Division during business hours (414-479-8907, 8am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday); or visit in person during Inspector’s Office Hours, 8am – 9am Monday – Friday.
- Inspections are scheduled to occur within a 30-minute time window. In general, the inspection can be scheduled to occur within 2 days of the request.
- If the project involves connection to the electrical grid, arrangements need to be made with We Energies. This will involve a Distributed Generation agreement, scheduling a commissioning appointment, and performing the commissioning on site with a utility representative.
- The project begins producing energy.
Best Practices and Resources
- Submit Distributed Generation forms ahead of project completion to accelerate utility approvals.
- Always leave room for fire access, such as on the north roof slope to allow entry if there is a fire.
- Consider rooftop solar when getting a new roof. Have a feasibility study completed for both.