Solar permitting data shows residential market woes

The number of solar permits issued in the 17 states surveyed by OhmHome has dropped 11% compared to Q3 2016, adding yet another data point to the growing body of evidence that the residential market is constricting.

When seen through the prism of the first nine months of the year, the numbers get even worse. Through September, OhmHome’s Solar Index has declined 17% year-on-year.

Despite the overall decline, Oregon and Washington emerged as bright spots. The two states in the notoriously cloudy and rainy Pacific Northwest saw 54% and 27% increases in permits issued in Q3 2017 compared to the same time last year.

In contrast, California and Arizona were trailblazers in the solar revolution, meaning there’s less room for the dramatic growth. Still, the number of Arizona’s permits rose 16% year-on-year (5% from Q2) and California, while the number of permits declined 20% year-on-year, increased 2% from Q2.

The report’s authors note that California’s decline actually slowed in Q3. Before that last three months, it had been on pace for a 30% decline year-on-year.

Oregon led the way in showing the largest increases from Q2, increasing the number of permits it issues by 28%, followed Utah (24%) and Connecticut (21%). On the other end, Vermont (-53%), South Carolina (-45%) and Maryland (-29%) showed the largest decreases.

It should be noted, however, that the total number of overall permits issued in various states may make the percentage change seem more significant than it actually is.

OhmHome’s Solar Index weights growth rates from available permits to state solar market sizes per the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).