East Hawaii News

Hawaiian Electric Proposes PV Cost Adjustments

June 30, 2015, 4:32 PM HST
* Updated June 30, 4:34 PM
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Hawaiian Electric has submitted a proposal to the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission that aims to improve the growth of rooftop photovoltaic systems across the state.

Among the items that Hawaiian Electric announced Monday is a revised monthly cost for any new residential PV system installed anywhere around the state. Currently, Big Island PV system customers pay $20.50 per month on their bill, the highest of any county in the state. The proposal would raise the monthly cost to $25 statewide.

Currently, Oahu customers pay $17 per month and Maui users pay a dollar more.

Additionally, the electric company plans to implement a rate credit of 22.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for all solar energy distributed to the grid from each Big Island residential rooftop PV system. The credit number was based on the energy utility cost.

Oahu rooftop PV customers would receive an 18 cent per kWh credit while Maui customers would get a 23.1 cent per kWh credit.

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“We know how much our customers want the benefits of rooftop solar,” said Jim Alberts, senior vice president of customer service at Hawaiian Electric. “We support and expect continued growth of rooftop solar. With levels of solar energy in Hawai’i that are twenty times higher than the nationwide average, these proposals provide greater access to rooftop PV while helping ensure the longevity of programs in a way that protects reliability, safety and fairness for all customers.

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“We’re supporting a plan that will help us triple the amount of distributed rooftop PV by 2030 and increase renewable energy to 65 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045. To reach those goals, we will need a diverse portfolio of renewable energy resources and a smart, modern grid.”

Other recommendations submitted by Hawaiian Electric include:

  • Nation-leading technical standards for advanced inverters, which aims to improve integration of high levels of rooftop PV.
  • New PV choices for customers, including battery-equipped rooftop photovoltaic systems.
  • A pilot time-of-use rate to give customers a chance to save money by shifting energy use to different times of day.
  • A better method of calculating the amount of rooftop PV that can be safely installed without affecting service for other customers.
  • A trimmed-down PV application process to improve efficiency and provide further transparency of the status of applications.

Robert Harris, spokesperson for The Alliance for Solar Choice, believes that Hawaiian Electric isn’t telling the whole story when explaining its PV proposal.

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“HECO is literally trying to tax the sun. Rather than proposing something more consumer-friendly, HECO deliberately came up with a concept that exposes new solar customers to federal and state income taxes, and possibly general excise tax obligations,” said Harris in a statement. “No other state has imposed these taxes on solar customers.

“HECO is pushing these solar taxes by seeking to replace its successful net metering program with a net feed in tariff program. Adding insult to injury, HECO’s proposal not only increases federal and state income taxes for Hawai’i residents, but it also jeopardizes residents’ ability to claim the 30% federal investment tax credit for solar. At a time when many states are looking to maximize solar deployment before the federal credit drops to 10% in 2017, HECO is brazenly asking its regulators to jeopardize its customers access to the credit.”

Hawaiian Electric says that the proposals were created with a mix of input from the community, solar companies, and industry stakeholders.

The PUC will consider all recommendations and submissions before making a decision on Hawaiian Eletric’s proposal.

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