REPORT FROM THE CITY & COUNTY OF HONOLULU – The City is making it easier to have solar energy systems installed on homes by allowing residents to hire qualified private contractors to conduct building inspections.

“Home photovoltaic systems have become hugely popular, and this new program will give residents the opportunity to expedite approval of the necessary permits,” Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

The program allows a third-party contractor that is not associated with anyone who installed a resident’s photovoltaic (PV) system to inspect the installation and submit the inspection forms to the Department of Planning and Permitting for approval. Residents can seek the private inspection if the City does not complete all required inspections within five working days of the inspection date requested.

The third-party inspections must be done by licensed contractors participating in the City’s PV System Special Inspection Program. Residents who choose to hire such contractors will pay fees separate from the normal building permit fee. The third-party fees will be determined by individual contractors.

In addition to providing a convenient option to expedite PV inspections, the program is expected to help speed up approvals of other electrical permits by reducing the number of pending City inspections. Seventeen City electrical inspectors are responsible for not only PV inspections, but all other building permits that require electrical inspections. This includes new homes, renovations, and commercial projects. More than 26,000 building permits with electrical work were issued in 2012.

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