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Code Changed to Ease Permitting of Photovoltaic Systems

Posted November 21, 2012, 04:06 PM HST
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A new law is designed to promote greater use of renewable energy while providing lower power costs to renters. File photo.

Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed a bill easing restrictions for residential installations of photovoltaic systems.

The change means that an architect or structural engineer’s seal is no longer needed on building plans for systems on homes. The seal is still required for commercial installations.

The change was made with the passing of Ordinance 12-149, which Kenoi signed on Nov. 8. The ordinance amends Chapter 9 of the Hawaii County Code.

“With this change in the electrical code, homeowners and installers can get photovoltaic systems on homes more quickly,” Kenoi said in a statement issued by his office. “Residential photovoltaic systems are an important part of reducing our island’s dependence on imported fuels and easing the burden of high electricity prices on our Hawai‘i Island families.”

Building and electrical permits are still required for both residential and non-residential photovoltaic installations, as is an electrical engineer’s stamp for electrical design drawings.

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Warren Lee, director of the Department of Public Works, said the plans will still need to be reviewed by county staff. He said that process will be shortened if they incorporate any of a number of mounting systems the county has pre-approved.

Electrical and building applications may be completed and tracked online through the Papa Aukahi web portal at papaaukahi.hawaiicounty.gov. Public computers are also available within the Hilo and Kona Building Division offices to create and track online permit applications.

According to the mayor’s office, front-desk support for permit applications is available from 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the exception of Wednesday in Hilo and Thursday in Kona, when the desks close at noon.  All other public works divisions remain available weekdays until 4:30 p.m. for code questions, consultation, and to drop off or pick up plans and permits.

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