Your employer is legally required to provide a workplace that is safe and implementing an electrical safety plan is the way to go. The written plan would include procedures for hot work. It is not supposed to be easy to get the hot work permit. The permit is only supposed to be issued under certain conditions such as turning off the power would introduce additional hazards or interrupt a continuous process. The permit is actually required (I believe) by NFPA 70E, which is the usual basis for an electrical safety program.
Your EHS is not forcing anything IMO, only trying to comply with the minimum requirements of the law.
I also welcome you to ECN.