TASC Files Lawsuit Against PUC

October 21, 2015, 3:17 PM HST (Updated October 21, 2015, 3:17 PM)
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The Alliance for Solar Choice has filed a lawsuit in Hawai’i state court, challenging the decision by the Public Utilities Commission’s to end Hawai’i’s net energy metering program.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, the PUC approved two new rooftop PV programs by Hawaiian Electric Companies that will replace the Net Energy Metering program.

Under the PUC’s decision, those who have a current NEM agreement, along with those who have pending applications submitted before Oct. 13, will continue under the NEM program. In addition, customers currently under NEM who want to install more PV panels or modify their systems, are required to transition to either the new Grid Supply or Self Supply programs.

The PUC also agreed to allow Hawaiian Electric to submit a revised time-of-use rate proposal to further expand option for customers.

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“It is abundantly clear that distributed energy resources can provide benefits to Hawai‘i. It is also clear, for both technical and economic reasons, that the policies established more than a decade ago must be adapted to address the reality of distributed energy resources as they exist today – and as they are likely to develop in the near future,” the PUC said on Oct. 13. “The challenge facing the State now is ensuring that DER continues to scale in a way that it benefits all customers as each utility advances towards 100% renewable energy.”

The recent lawsuit against the PUC, notes that the PUC’s decision is not fair.

“We’re acting on behalf of Hawai’i residents like Marge Tam, who are denied the opportunity to install solar because of an unlawful and flawed decision,” said TASC spokesperson Bryan Miller. “The PUC decision goes far beyond anything proposed by even notoriously anti-solar Hawaiian Electric.

“The PUC’s decision is neither fair nor justified. Contrary to a law passed by the Hawai’i Legislature two years ago, the PUC failed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the value of solar on the grid. Instead, the PUC relied upon speculation by the utility and ended net metering without notice to consumers.”

According to TASC, an independent analysis predicts the PUC’s decision will shut down Hawai’i’s rooftop solar industry. The commission says the prediction comes in the face of Governor David Ige’s recent commitment to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045.

“The PUC’s decision is fatally flawed,” said Miller. “The PUC acted illegally and failed to hold a public hearing or give parties the opportunity to challenge the assertions the PUC relied upon. As a result, the decision is unworkable. By guaranteeing customers only two years worth of rates, they don’t know if a twenty year investment makes sense. The PUC should have given parties the opportunity to meaningfully test HECO’s assertions and conduct a study to understand the value of solar on the grid.”

The court is expected to schedule a hearing on TASC’s request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the PUC from implementing the decision.

Those interested in reviewing a full copy for the complaint can do so here.

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