Published on December 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan0
Permitting — A Nightmare For The US Solar Industry
Solar permitting is a b**** in the US. We’ve known that for awhile, but a new report on the matter from Clean Power Finance confirms that. The report (PDF), supported by the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, comes to the following key findings:
- Permitting processes vary widely among locales and usually involve 2 distinct agencies (and up to 5 agencies), each with different processes.
- More than 1 in 3 installers avoid selling an average of 3.5 jurisdictions because of associated permitting difficulties.
- AHJs require, on average, nearly 8 work weeks to complete their tasks. The staff time of the installer, however, averages just 14.25 hours.
- There are likely significant opportunities for installers to reduce costs by improving processes around customer acquisitions and operations.
The fact that a ton of installers simply avoid going into certain jurisdictions because of their horrible permitting processes is concerning.
We’ve discussed the huge difference between the cost of going solar in the US vs in Germany a number of times. Additionally, a number of studies have shown that the difference isn’t due to hardware costs but to “soft costs” such as permitting costs, customer acquisition costs, labor costs, and overhead. Here are a couple charts on the matter (also included in “Renewable Energy Big Pic: Part 2“):
Bottom line: we really need to get our permitting costs down, and simplify permitting processes across the nation, as well as addressing other solar power soft costs.