Community Solar Sites Opening for Business
The Hawaiian Electric Companies announced it will begin accepting applications at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, from qualified subscriber organizations that wish to build and operate a community solar facility on O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Maui or Hawai‘i Island in the first phase of Community-Based Renewable Energy (CBRE).
“We welcome the launch of community solar and look forward to a strong response from subscriber organizations so the many electric customers who are eager to join can begin the participation process,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of business development and strategic planning.
“For those who do not have private, rooftop solar, including many renters and apartment dwellers, this will be another option to reduce bills and be part of our renewable transformation,” Kimura said.
“We’re happy with this clean start for the first phase of the CBRE and the positive signal and opportunity it provides for expanding customer access to renewable energy,” said Isaac Moriwake, the Earthjustice attorney who represented solar energy parties in the community solar proceeding before the Public Utilities Commission. “We look forward to working with Hawaiian Electric and industry participants to maximize the success of this first phase in opening a robust community solar marketplace in Hawai‘i.”
“This community solar program will open the path to renewable energy for more Hawai‘i residents,” said Kyle Datta, general partner of Ulupono Initiative, who was an intervenor in the PUC proceeding. It’s exciting to see all the energy community partners coming together to find a way to provide more accessible and equitable clean energy options. This will hopefully further accelerate the adoption of solar and decrease the need for imported fossil fuels in the state.”
Electric customers will be able to subscribe for community solar on their island only after subscriber organizations have applied and are approved to build a community solar project. Subscribers will receive a credit on their electric bill, based on the output of the project and their level of participation.
Any qualified company, organization, developer, or group wishing to become a subscriber organization and propose a solar project can download an application form. A share of the 8 megawatts of capacity available in the Hawaiian Electric Companies service territory will be awarded in the order that completed applications with all required items are received. An independent observer, paid by the Hawaiian Electric Companies but reporting to the Public Utilities Commission, can grant a waiver for some requirements for certain small community solar projects.
Information about eligibility, applications and waiver information for subscriber organizations are available online.
A link to an informational webinar for prospective subscriber organizations will be added shortly. For more information, potential subscriber organizations may contact:
- (808) 969-0358 or [email protected] for Hawai‘i Island
- (808) 543-7253 or [email protected] for O‘ahu
- (808) 871-8461, ext. 2445 or [email protected] for Maui
- (877) 871-8461, ext. 2445 or [email protected] for Lana‘i and Moloka‘i.
As first proposed by Hawaiian Electric in 2015, CBRE is envisioned to expand the state’s renewable energy transformation, benefit individual customers and put more solar energy to work, reducing the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation.
The first phase of CBRE aims to bring online a total of eight megawatts of solar, equivalent to a small grid-scale array, in the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light service territories.
Although customers may not sign up for community solar until a subscriber organization is approved for their island, general information and answers to many common questions are available online. The companies will update these sites with the most recent and complete information. Utility customers can also call (808) 543-7474 from O‘ahu or (833) 411-3603 from Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i or Hawai‘i Island.
The second phase of CBRE, expected in about two years, will include other renewable energy technologies beyond solar. Special provisions will be made to enroll low-to-moderate income subscribers, though subscriber organizations may enlist such customers in the first phase.