City of Portland solar permitting process

Solar permit

The City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) updated their solar permitting guidance document, the Checklist and Submittal Requirements for Prescriptive Installations, in January 2020. The updated document is intended to clarify what rafter structure meets prescriptive path requirements, what rafter span tables that should be used, and the documentation that must be provided, for both city plans examiners and solar contractors.

Portland BDS also has a document that provides guidelines for non-prescriptive solar permitting applications. This is designed to aid solar trade allies in communicating the necessary information and analysis required by the city to the structural engineers with which they are working.

If you have questions about a project contact Bureau of Development Services directly at 503.823.7357 or by email at

When submitting prescriptive solar permit applications by email:  

  • Projects must meet the prescriptive path requirements.
  • There is no limit to the number of prescriptive solar permit applications that can be submitted through email.
  • Projects should include the completed checklist, electrical permit application, building permit application and all necessary drawings or documentation and email
  • Prescriptive permit applications that are sent by email typically take 2-3 business days to process if all necessary information is provided and there are no follow-up questions.

When submitting prescriptive or non-prescriptive solar permit applications over the counter:

  • Projects can be either prescriptive OR non-prescriptive.
  • There is a limit of two permit applications per person at a time.
  • For either prescriptive or nonprescriptive permit applications, the solar trade ally must complete all necessary application forms and provide two copies of all necessary drawings or documentation.
  • For non-prescriptive projects, ensure that the structural engineer has referred to the non-prescriptive guidelines document and all necessary analysis is provided and documented. Informing the engineer about when you will submit the permits is helpful in case BDS staff need to contact them for clarification during their review.
  • If all necessary information is provided, prescriptive and most residential and small commercial nonprescriptive permit applications can be processed over the counter immediately.

Bookmark these two links for reference:

In creating these documents, the intent of Portland BDS is to provide a faster and more consistent permitting experience for solar contractors pulling solar permits in Portland. Energy Trust meets regularly with Portland BDS staff and if you have information or concerns about your experience when permitting solar projects you can share them through this online form.

Please direct any questions about permitting specific projects in Portland to the Bureau of Development Services at 503.823.7357, or by email at