Installing a Solar Energy System

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Solar PanelsThere are three City of Ames departments that will help you with four approvals for your solar energy system, as outlined below. Each of the application forms are linked in the underlined text. Submission details and contact information are specified in each of the agreement/permit applications.

Alternatively, you may send all of the applications and supporting documents to the Energy Services Coordinator at the address below, who will forward the documents to the appropriate departments.

Energy Services Coordinator
502 Carroll Ave
Ames, IA 50010

The City of Ames recommends that all permits and approvals be submitted and approved before the purchase of equipment. All of these applications may be submitted concurrently. If you run into trouble at any step of the process, you can call the Energy Services Coordinator at 515.239.5177 for guidance.

  1. The Electric Services Department - Interconnection Agreement
    • The solar vendor typically prepares the interconnection agreement submission, but the owner must sign/approve it. 
    • Requirements for supporting documents are specified in the agreement. Note that the one-line diagram developed for this agreement may also be used to satisfy the one-line requirements of the Electrical Permit.

  2. The Planning and Housing Department - Solar Energy System Zoning Permit (SESZP)
    • Requirements for supporting documents are specified in the permit application. Note that the site plan developed for this permit may be also used to satisfy the site plan requirements of the Interconnection Agreement (Electric Services) and Electrical Permit (Inspections), provided the location of the electrical components (meter, disconnect, panels, inverters) are also shown on the plan.

  3. The Inspections Department - Building and Electrical Permits
    • An electrician typically applies for the electrical permit, while the solar vendor/contractor typically applies for the building permit. Both must be licensed contractors registered with the State of Iowa Division of Labor and with the City of Ames Inspection Division.
    • Requirements for supporting documents are specified in the permit application.


*If the proposed solar installation is ground-mounted (not on a rooftop) or located in an historic district, click here to read the relevant Zoning Standards and additional approvals that will be necessary.  You will find SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS (SES) in Sec. 29.1309, starting on page 10.

Final commissioning test and Net Meter Setup: Once the system is approved and after it has been installed, it will be inspected by the Inspections Department and commissioned in the presence of Electric Services. This is typically a simple demonstration of the anti-islanding capability of the system and requires the system vendor to be present to start the system and measure voltage and generated output. This final test may be coordinated to take place the same day and immediately following the final electrical inspection when 24 hour advance-notification is given to Electric Services (515.239.5174) and Inspections (515.239.5153).

The Net Meter is typically programmed the day of the commissioning test, or shortly thereafter.

Also, you may also choose to submit a Photovoltaic Rebate Form (We recommend that you do!).