HSEA Permitting Report 8/30/17

Posted on Wednesday, August 30, 2017


Will Giese

(808) 440-7819

info (AT) hsea (DOT) org

NEWS Release


September 30, 2017

Pulled permits down a shocking 50% year/year, permitting numbers suggest continued decline

Permitting figures tracked by HSEA continue to show constant decline across the industry in Hawaii. Although the recent PUC ruling that allows deadwood NEM capacity transfer to the CGS program is underway, all transfers will be ceased in October of this year. This means that the CSS program is the only long-term residential solar option available for customers. Despite an almost 2 year run, only 166 CSS systems have been energized to date.

“Permitting figures are a particularly accurate measure of market trends,” says Will Giese, Policy Adviser for HSEA. “Our current figures show a troubling and consistent decline in market activity.”

Table 1: Permitting Figures 2016/2017




Systems Online



Down 63%

Permits Pulled (Oahu)



Down 50%

Solar contractors pull permits when they anticipate developing a project in the near future. In midyear 2016, the total number of pulled permits was about 3009. This half, only 1502 permits were pulled.

“These figures are absolutely unsustainable over the long term. Declining trends of this nature will result in lost local jobs and result in an inability for consumers to choose cheap, renewable energy.” Says Mr. Giese.


On March 17, the PUC ruled that capacity from previously approved, but cancelled NEM projects could be transferred to the CGS program. Although it is impossible to predict how much of this capacity will eventually be transferred to the CGS program, this ruling will help to ameliorate a contracting market. HSEA and other stakeholders continue to work together to identify transferable capacity.

Additionally both interim tariff programs (CGS and CSS) will be reevaluated this October. In its most recent order, the PUC signaled that “non-controllable export tariffs” are unlikely to be considered in future tariff decisions. The fate of both programs is unknown at this time.

Currently, industry stakeholders are working with the utility and state employees to develop a “smart export” tariff that will hopefully incentivize greater adoption of energy storage. The program will allow limited exports at peak generation times that will provide both energy to the consumer and support to the grid.


The HSEA and multiple energy stakeholders continue to work with the DPP on permitting issues. The main aim of these meetings has been to establish a dialogue with the DPP on storage permitting. Energy storage permitting has been an area of ongoing concern. Ongoing collaboration between the DPP and energy stakeholders has resulted in improvements in the storage permitting process. In light of this, it is reasonable to expect an uptake in the CSS program.

Closing Remarks:

“We are treading water at the moment and that is not in the best interest of Hawaii’s ratepayers.” Says HSEA President Rick Reed. “Folks are looking for a market structure that allows for more solar.  We don’t have that now and people are impatient.”


Founded in 1977, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association is a Non-Profit organization and is comprised of installers, distributors, manufacturers, auditors, and financiers of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The majority of our member companies are locally owned and operated, making HSEA the leading voice of Hawaii’s solar industry.

The Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) issues its July report assessing the strength of Hawaii's solar energy industry. A rating, SUNNY, OVERCAST, CLOUDY, or STORMY is issued each quarter based on solar sales, jobs, and installations data. Pro or anti-solar policy, regulation, and legislation will also factor into the quarterly rating.

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