Solar Resources

Step-By-Step Solar Guide: City of Athens

Congratulations…You live in a solar-friendly community!

Is solar energy right for my home or business?

Good question! As the solar economy grows across the world, communities are embracing the opportunity to support clean, green power.

In this Step-By-Step Solar Guide, we make sure you are asking the right questions about solar energy. There are many factors to consider when deciding to go solar, so we’ve assembled this easy guide to streamline the process.

Step 1: Conserve energy first

Before asking if solar is a good investment, you should see if there are cheaper ways to reduce your overall energy consumption. If your home or business is not energy efficient, you will be wasting precious power through drafty doors and windows. Get a home energy audit to determine how you can save energy before you pursue a solar installation.

Step 2: Know the Rules

Review your community’s rules and regulations for installing solar energy systems. There are different rules for installing solar in a residential zone vs. a commercial zone, for example. Click here to access City of Athens Solar Permitting Checklist. The City of Athens is committed to a 3 business day application to approval turnaround for small roof top PV systems.

Step 3: Check your Roof

Most roof structures can accommodate a solar system, but some are better than others. How old is your roof? Ideally you are hoping for below half the expected remaining lifespan of the roof. South-facing roofs are best. Southwest is good, southeast will work, and North is bad. You want no shade…. or very little shade on your roof. Think about trees that are still growing, what your roof shade will be like through the seasons, and if you can clean off debris easily (like snow or leaves). In traditional solar panel wiring, shade on a portion of 1 panel can reduce the electrical output of a whole strong of panels. Bring this concern to your installer!

Step 4: Shop Around for a Solar Installer

Yes – get a quote from multiple installers, if possible. Quotes should contain a roof assessment (Steps 1-3 and an estimate of how much solar power you can expect with a certain number of solar panels installed). The installer should share what type of panels, racks, and inverters will be used. Do some research.

It is important to know your rights as a solar customer. Ask your installer for multiple scenarios, including cost with and without the full federal tax credit of 30%, with flexible financing options including what the cost will look like if secured through a bank loan, a home equity loan, a line of credit, a power purchase agreement, or an outright cash purchase.

The installer should also handle all permits and necessary requirements with government regulators. This includes city permits, communication with the utility for grid interconnection, and available incentives.

Check to see the installers are licensed contractors, with a credentialed electrician on staff. Many installers carry North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification.

The following solar installation companies provide services in the region:

Kokosing Third Sun Solar

Appalachian Renewable Power Systems – ARP Solar

Athens Electric

Step 4: Installation and interconnection

Ready to turn on that solar? Installation of solar panels typically take 4-5 hours unless the installer is building a ground-mount system or is adding unique racking to hold the panels as flush as possible against the roof.

Before turning the panels on, a utility representative must approve the solar-to-grid connection, ensuring proper safety measures have been met. In Athens, the electric utility is AEP Ohio – you can learn more using their consumer interconnection guide.

AEP Distributed Generation Phone: 614-883-6775

E-mail:  |

Questions? Get Help!

UpGrade Ohio works with the Village of City of Athens residents by providing hands-on technical support for residents, small businesses and industries seeking to save energy and access renewable energy solutions. If you need assistance with your solar project, contact UpGrade Ohio at or visit

Read more about Athens City's commitment to development in the Solsmart Solar Statement.