Permit Issuance Process Evaluation

Permit Issuance Process Evaluation

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2839-7.ch008


The most frequent customer complaint is the amount of time it takes to process and issue a permit. The obvious goal is to reduce the time it takes from submittal of an application to the issuance of the necessary permits to be able to start and complete construction. It is an improvement process designed to meet customer expectations while maintaining assurance that the public benefit is achieved. Seven various scheduling and cost configuration scenarios are analyzed to determine the optimal resource leveling condition(s). The foundation is developed for the strategist to assist with the time and cost trade-off evaluation involved in capacity planning for permit processing.
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A good leader can’t get too far ahead of his followers.

(~Franklin Roosevelt)

The permit issuance process in the electrical utility industry involves various entities working in concert to provide, review, and implement the document. There are several layers to the process and oftentimes creates unnecessary as well as extensive delays. The different permit types and processing procedures can lead to the long delays and subsequently increase the cost in a capital-intensive project. Some of the permit types and cross-functional document review are listed below:

  • Right-of-Way - Deeds

  • Vegetation Control - Option Agreements

  • Storm Water - County & Local Permits

  • Temporary Construction & Access License

The external entities and processes involved with the permit lead to the affected landowners, legal, court filing, and local planning & engineering departments. In fact, many of the system impact studies for wind farm integration conducted by the regional independent service operators include an overall estimated cost for permit fees. However, this figure does not encompass the cost avoidance based on the permitting delays. It is beneficial to evaluate these assumptions in order to develop the true capital project costs. Permitting delays are inevitable in some endeavors and can be mitigated if the correct systems are in place. Redundancy planning and parallel work efforts of non-permit activities are methods utilized to optimize the processing system and avoid enormous delays. The majority of the renewable energy system integration efforts require strategic equipment upgrades within the current U.S. infrastructure. It is expected that the permitting process for the integration work effort to be as seamless as possible to further advance the cause. For example, the development of offshore wind energy in the U.S. currently face challenges with permitting and siting issues (Van Cleve & Copping, 2010). The developers cite the arduous process of permitting one of these sites and a high-level of uncertainty in the arena. There are also challenges related to gaining public acceptance through outreach activities when the offshore wind energy project is proposed. The current process requires streamlining from seven-to-nine years as well as reducing the related costs ($2~3M) based on the environmental studies of operating offshore. The permitting process must be expedited to reduce the associated agency long response times and lower barriers for other developers to enter the arena. The consolidation of similar agency requirements is mandatory to support the streamline process for permit issuance.

The external entities play a vital role in the permit process – from the federal level to the local inspection areas. The capital project is interrelated to the permitting and siting processes and dependent on its outcomes. Specifically, the time required reviewing and issuing the document has the potential to idle expensive resources. Consequently, the planning aspect is essential to reduce the wait and idle times typically associated with capital-intensive ventures. Once the time constraints are identified and reduced to a feasible measure, the associated costs are expected to decrease proportionally. Additionally, the implementation of the managerial soft skills “Triple C” methodologies (communication, coordination, and cooperation) embedded in the process will reduce these costs even further. The team members must be able to frame the problem and analyze solutions. Moreover, team members are expected to communicate these insights and cooperate with each applicable stakeholder to implement vital decisions related to the business situation (Leonhardi, 2011). When several departments are contributing to the process, only one may create a delay within the entire system. By developing specific system control limits, documented best practices, and Lean Quality measures, the requesting company is ensured a timely, cost-effective product from the process. Once the permit is issued, the company is expected to comply with the specific provisions in the document. Many of these stipulations are interrelated with other agencies, permits, and statues germane to the project. The “Triple C” methodologies are expected to dominate in these situations.

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