A great example that just arrived in my inbox today comes from one of our installer partners . Here is the (very) abbreviated version of the story: " We had an appointment in the beginning of March to submit to review for permit. When our technician arrived, the officials had no record of there being an appointment. This is not the first time the building department has done this. We had no choice but to schedule another appointment, but the building department only takes appointments by phone and would not let our technician make one when he was there. He called when he left their office and could only leave a message. He called the next day and was able to speak with someone. They gave him their next available appointment for first thing Thursday morning, 3/31. It turned out that this day was available because it was Cesar Chavez Day and the office was closed that day. We had to reschedule again for an appointment this Thursday in the morning."
A good example of an inefficient bureaucracy that systematically wastes time and destroys value. Is there hope for these processes to improve and therefore reduce the costs for homeowners to get their energy for a better energy source? I am pretty pessimistic. Here are some hard numbers that make this game a difficult one to win. The main policy stakeholders that shape a local solar market are (1) the utility commissions, (2) the state legislatures, (3) the utilities, and (4) the building departments (officially called "Authority Having Jurisdictions" or AHJs). In the US there are 51 utility commissions, 51 legislatures and about 3,000 different utilities. And there are 18,000 AHJs. Each of these 18,000 AHJs have different approval processes, different permitting requirements and different software products they use (or none at all). Is it realistic that we can influence a majority of these AHJs to adopt certain permitting standards and use 20th century technology (e.g. allow customers to submit permits online)?