View from the backyard at 2300 El Moreno St. of solar panels structure being erected on the campus of Mountain Avenue Elementary School in La Crescenta on Friday, July 13, 2012.

View from the backyard at 2300 El Moreno St. of solar panels structure being erected on the campus of Mountain Avenue Elementary School in La Crescenta on Friday, July 13, 2012. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / November 28, 2012)

The cost of installing solar panels in Glendale will drop significantly on Jan. 1 as a new state law takes effect.

That’s because at the start of the new year, cities will not be allowed to charge more than a $500 flat fee for a permit to install less than 15 kilowatts of solar panels on residential buildings.

For commercial buildings, the price will range between $1,000 for 50 kilowatt projects to $2,400 for those systems larger than 250 kilowatts.

An extra fee of $5 to $15 per kilowatt can still be added depending on the ultimate size of the project, according to a city memo.

The average solar project in Glendale tends to be less than 10 kilowatts, said Building Official Stuart Tom. To install a 3 kilowatt project currently costs about $807, Tom said, adding that the permit price varies depending on the size and complexity of the project.

The fee limit isn’t the only state rule that will impact people who want to install solar panels. Another law precludes design review from blocking the panels, even if neighbors protest.

Glendale doesn’t get many requests for solar panel permits, so the reduced cost isn’t expected to cripple any budgets. Tom said he’s unsure if the reduced permit prices will prompt more solar project applications, but even if it does, it would be worth it since pressure on the city’s utility would be alleviated.

“If my department has take on a little more work, that’s fine,” Tom said.

-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.