Oahu rooftop solar approvals down 40 percent, but increasing


Oahu is about to mark two years of declines in the number of rooftop solar permits being approved.

According to the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting, 343 permits were issued last month. That’s down 40 percent from the same time last year.

“For the last couple of years, this solar coaster has been slowing down,” said Chris DeBone with Hawaii Energy Connection.

Hawaiian Electric said in November it would clear the backlog of customers waiting to get solar. Thousands of customers have been waiting in the queue that HECO is trying to clear.

Since the plan was announced in November, more than 1,200 permits for rooftop PV have been approved on Oahu.

KHON2 talked to some experts from solar companies who said they have seen more approvals in the last few weeks, much more than what they saw in the past few months.

“(It used to be) single digits per week, which is a very low amount for us to be in,” DeBone said. “(Now it’s into the) double digits. We have started to see on all islands, Big Island, Maui and Oahu, we’re starting to see approvals of customers that have been in the queue the longest it seems.”

Some customers who have been waiting for 12 to 18 months are getting their approvals now.

KHON2 also talked to another company on the Big Island and found out there’s been more movement.

“While Oahu numbers continue to fall off their cliff so to speak, there was a small modest increase in the number of PV permits issued for the Big Island,” said Marco Mangelsdorf, president of ProVision Solar.

A HECO spokesperson said 1,600 customers who have been waiting in the queue have been approved, including a thousand on Oahu and 300 each on Maui and the Big Island.

“It’s not moving as fast as really anybody wants to see happen, but that’s the reality that we have and we’re trying to do the best we can in a very challenging environment,” Mangelsdorf said.

HECO still has 1,700 more PV applications to approve by next month if it still plans to meet its goal, and the company says it will.

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