Blockage of online authorization system slows PV installations

Local solar and photovoltaic contractors say there is a blockage in the permit pipeline of the county’s new EPIC online permit system.

A slowdown in permits was expected with the switch to an online permit system at the end of July. But, while most builders and contractors polled in an informal West Hawaii Today survey said permits are starting to arrive, photovoltaic and solar water contractors have yet to see a single permit run out.

The situation is so dire that solar companies are considering going out of business and laying off employees, said Rocky Mold, executive director of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

“County permits have to start working again,” Mold said. “Failure to process requests on time is having an impact on residents – who are looking to switch to clean energy and save money on their electric bills – and slows economic growth at a time when we need it most. “

The numbers seem to corroborate the concerns of entrepreneurs.

None of the 947 permits registered as issued in the EPIC system between July 1 and Monday were for photovoltaic or solar systems. That compares to 77 photovoltaic systems and 19 solar water systems in June, 56 photovoltaic systems and 33 solar water systems in May and 63 photovoltaic systems and 27 solar water systems in April, according to the newspaper’s analysis.

The county’s public works department stopped accepting permit applications from July 16 to 28, the day EPIC – an acronym for Electronic Processing and Information Center – went online.

A DPW spokeswoman verified the lack of PV and solar permits and said the department, over the past two weeks, had addressed “the sheer volume of permits and technical workflow issues.”

DPW’s building division has received 1,500 building permit applications since the EPIC system went online, she said, and issued 561 permits.

The $ 2.5 million Energov program integrates data from property records, zoning, critical habitat, infrastructure like sewers, contractor licenses, building and plot designs and more into a single cloud-based system that will allow inspectors from multiple departments to work on a permit application. simultaneously, rather than shuffling paper from one office to another.

A post on the new website (https://hawaiicountyhi-energovpub.tylerhost.net/Apps/SelfService#/home) advised patience.

“This website is updated daily,” the post read. “Mahalo for your patience during this period of transition to the EPIC system. “

Puna City Councilor Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder, himself a solar installer, said he heard a number of complaints and understood that the contractors had met with DPW to try and resolve the issues. He said he asked the Public Works and Transit Council committee to put an update of the DPW on its agenda to understand what was going on.

“We have a real estate boom right now. Delaying progress by not having a work permit system, there is something wrong, ”Kanealii-Kleinfelder said.

“The entrepreneurs are frustrated and the guys aren’t working. “

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at [email protected]

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