City to clear the air over roof-mounted solar panels

Edmonton needs to change rules around the installation of solar panels on houses and garages to encourage homeowners to go solar, a city report says.

The report says rules around the panels are unclear, discouraging homeowners from installing them.

"The ambiguity around the need for development permits and associated drawings, as well as delays in the permitting process, increases soft costs and often prevents many homeowners from installing these devices," the report says.

Edmonton is out of step with other municipalities in Alberta such as Calgary and St. Albert, which exempt panels from requiring development permits, the report says.

The report says the number of solar panels installed on homes each year has grown over the last few years, from 26 in 2010 to 342 last year.

The number is expected to rise even higher after the provincial government announced a $36 million dollar rebate program to encourage people to use more solar panels to generate power.

City council will debate eliminating the need for a development permit for roof-mounted solar panels in low-density neighbourhoods, following a public hearing on Monday afternoon.

Concerns raised in an online survey on residential solar panels centred on the shadows on panels that project excessively from the roof or sides of the building and the esthetics of solar collectors mounted to walls that face a street.

Councillors will examine height restrictions to minimize the impact on neighbours.