Applications for Community Solar Projects off to Strong Start
Ten days after the Hawaiian Electric Companies launched the first phase of community solar, the companies are receiving applications. So far, four applications for capacity on O‘ahu, four for Maui Island, three for Hawai‘i Island, and one for Moloka‘i from proposed subscriber organizations that plan to build and operate community solar facilities. Proposed projects vary from 200 kilowatts to three megawatts.
An indication of strong interest among developers is that proposed projects already exceed the five megawatt capacity for O‘ahu and one megawatt capacity for Hawai‘i Island. Capacity remains available on Maui, Moloka‘i and Lana‘i but additional applications are encouraged for all islands. Community solar capacity for the first phase of the program was set by the Public Utilities Commission.
“We’re happy to see this strong response,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for business development and strategic planning. “Until the capacity is officially committed, we encourage subscriber organizations to apply for all islands so we can see the scope of interest. We know many customers are awaiting official approval of subscriber organizations so they can begin the process to participate.”
All applications by subscriber organizations still must be reviewed and approved before capacity is officially committed. The Hawaiian Electric Companies continue to accept applications for all islands. If a subscriber organization does not meet requirements for participation, the next organization in order of application will be reviewed. Upon approval, subscriber organizations may recruit utility customers to participate and customers must have their eligibility checked by the electric company on their island.
Once a community solar project is complete and sending electricity to the grid, participating 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 find an application form, eligibility and waiver information online.
Capacity in the companies’ service territory will be awarded in the order completed applications with all required items are received. An independent observer who reports to the Public Utilities Commission can grant a waiver from some requirements for certain small community solar projects.
For more information, potential subscriber organizations may call (808) 543-7253 from O‘ahu, (808) 969-0358 from Hawai‘i Island, (808) 871-8461, ext. 2445 from Maui, and (877) 871-8461, ext. 2445 from Lana‘i and Moloka‘i.
As first proposed by Hawaiian Electric in 2015, community solar is envisioned to expand the state’s renewable energy transformation, benefit individual customers—especially many renters and apartment dwellers without access to private rooftop solar—and put more solar energy to work, reducing the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation.
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.
These sites will be updated with the most recent information. Utility customers can also call (808) 543-7474 from O‘ahu or (808) 833-411-3603 from Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i or Hawai‘i Island.
The second phase of the Community-Based Renewable Energy program, expected in about two years, may include other renewable energy technologies beyond solar. Special provisions will be made to enroll low-to-moderate income subscribers.