Introduction: Big Island Permit Issues Delaying Solar and Home Battery Installations
More and more homeowners on Big Island are deciding to take back control of their electricity costs by switching to solar and home batteries with Alchemy Solar. An essential part of the process of a solar installation is the approval of the building permit to make sure that the solar installation will be done safely. Unfortunately, recent issues with a new permitting process for Big Island permits have meant that no solar permits have been approved in recent months!
These permitting issues delay the ability for homeowners to save on their Hawaiin Electric costs and protect themselves against power outages. Solar industry experts are also concerned about how these project delays might lead to some solar companies going out of business.
At Alchemy Solar, our focus is on ensuring that customers get the best solar and battery installation possible. So let's take a look at what is causing these permit delays on the Big Island and how Alchemy Solar protects customers from the risk these delays can cause.
Big Island Solar Permitting Delays: How the EPIC online permitting system is leading to delays in solar installations?
Earlier in the year, the Big Island decided to switch over to the EPIC online permitting system. So on July 28th, the EPIC system went live on the Big Island. The EPIC or Electronic Processing and Information Center system is a $2.5 million Energov program.
Leaders on the Big Island decided to switch to the EPIC system to better incorporate important data on property records, infrastructure, contractor licenses, and other information into one digital system to allow different departments to work on a permit application simultaneously.
In theory, the switch to a digital permitting system like the EPIC platform was long overdue. Permitting delays have plagued the solar and building industry on Big Island, leading to financial loss for customers and the economy across Hawaii. This tool should help to simplify and expedite the completion of PV installations and construction projects. However, in execution, the rollout of the new permitting has not gone well.
For solar companies to install the photovoltaic projects, they need first to receive the building permit. The building permit is a crucial step to help make sure the solar panels can be installed safely. Under the new EPIC program, solar PV system permits have not been approved, creating a massive backlog and delaying the installation of customers' solar panel systems by months or more.
Making the situation worse, other contractors are starting to see permits come through the system, meaning that the issue only impacts solar and home battery permits. One recent article found that NONE were for PV projects of the 947 permits that the EPIC system had successfully issued!
This delay in installations is putting a massive strain on cash flow for smaller local solar contractors. When combined with the recent Oahu solar permitting issues, these delays can be dire. The situation is so difficult for some of these solar companies that they are forced to consider laying off employees or even closing the business permanently.
The loss of work will put an additional burden on the economy of the Big Island, but the delay in the solar installation is also putting an additional strain on homeowners.
Homeowners on Big Island have to pay some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. On top of that, Hawaiin Electric is notorious for power outages that impact Big Island, Maui, and Oahu. This combination of issues has led to customers realizing that solar panels and batteries are one of the best financial decisions that they can make.
These delays on solar permits mean that customers have to continue to pay high HELCO electricity bills. The fact that the solar permits on Big Island have been delayed for months means that homeowners who have decided to switch over to solar panels have been paying thousands of extra dollars for electricity compared to if they had been able to get the PV installed in line with a standard installation timeline.
How is Alchemy Solar protecting our Big Island customers from solar permit delays?
At Alchemy Solar, we want to ensure that our customers have the best solar and battery experience possible. Unfortunately, we cannot control the speed or process of when the EPIC permitting process will start working on Big Island. However, we can provide our customers with solar and battery solutions that protect them from the Big Island permitting delays are causing.
Most small solar contractors on Big Island only have one type of financing solution: purchasing the solar and battery system. Unfortunately, purchasing the system means that customers have to pay a significant upfront cost to get the project started. With the delays on the projects, that means that customers on Big Islands who went with this option are getting no return on the money they have spent to start the solar process.
At Alchemy Solar, we are focused on having a variety of solutions for our customers. One of the most popular options for our customers is the $0 down option from Sunrun. By removing the upfront cost of starting the solar process, our customers on the Big Island who have gone with a monthly solar option do not have to suffer from paying money that is not providing them any value.
Another meaningful way that we protect our customers is by standing by the price that our customers agreed to. Unfortunately, like many other things globally, solar batteries like the Tesla Powerwall 2 and LG Chem RESU have been impacted by the global supply crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hear reports that customers who went with smaller solar contractors are being asked to pay more for the system because of these equipment increases. Adjusting the price provides a bad experience and compounds the financial burden of Big Island solar permit delays.
At Alchemy Solar, we want to ensure our customers get the best return from the solar battery we provide. That starts with standing by the price our customers see when they sign their agreement, but it extends to the value provided to our customers with the Sunrun Brightbox Battery product. The Sunrun Brightbox provides the industry's best warranty and monitoring and, just as meaningfully, access to future savings connected to programs like Oahu's Demand Response Battery Bonus and Kukui Hele Po Program.
We also want to ensure that we can provide financial value to our customers even before installing solar panels! So, unlike other solar companies on Big Island, our customers can qualify for referrals as soon as they sign up for solar. Currently, our referral program provides customers $1,000 for everyone who they refer that installs solar panels.
For our customers on the Big Island, that means our customer's projects that are currently delayed by the permitting issues have still set themselves up to make thousands of dollars with referrals!
Conclusion: How Alchemy Solar is helping our Big Island customers experiencing permitting delays!
At Alchemy Solar, we believe the solar process should be exciting, and we know how frustrating these permit delays have been for our customers on the Big Island.
Even though we cannot speed up the process, we believe that providing our customers with the peace of mind of knowing that price increases will not impact their project, offering a $0 down option that removes the upfront cost of starting the solar process, and providing customers the opportunity to start generating referral payments before the solar panels are even installed!
Unfortunately, we can only do so much to help expedite the solar permit issue on Big Island. Therefore, we recommend that customers who have experienced permit delay issues use their voice to reach out to the people who can help resolve this issue. In addition, for any customer whose solar and battery project has been impacted by the Big Island Building Permit delay, we recommend that they contact both the City Building Department and the Mayor's office to submit a formal complaint:
County of Hawaii Building and Planning Department:
If Hawaii is going to accomplish its goal of reaching 100% renewable energy, we need our residential solar projects to be approved in a reasonable timeline. Hopefully, the voices of actual Big Island homeowners will help to get the solar permit issue resolved.
We know that the recent delays can be disheartening, but the critical thing to remember is the financial value, and savings homeowners will see by adding solar. Starting the process of adding solar is an important step, mainly because solar panels have a projected lifespan of over 25 years! A slight delay getting the panels in is hard, but the HELCO savings the customer will see over the years to come will more than makeup for the slight frustration now!
We understand that the process of adding solar can feel overwhelming. At Alchemy Solar, we will guide you during every step of the process and make sure that you are kept updated on the status of your project. So don't wait to find out how much solar and home batteries can save you, schedule a free consultation with Alchemy Solar today!