By Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Companies
HONOLULU – As part of its transformation to deliver a more affordable, clean energy future for Hawai’i, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are proposing a new program to increase rooftop solar in a way that’s safe, sustainable and fair for all customers.
The Transitional Distributed Generation program would credit customers at a rate that better reflects the cost of the electricity produced by their rooftop solar systems. This is consistent with how Kaua’i Island Utility Co-Op compensates its solar customers.
The company is also developing a community solar program as another option to help make the benefits of solar available to all customers, including those who may not be able to install rooftop solar (for example, renters or condo dwellers).
Hawaiian Electric is asking the PUC to approve the new program within 60 days. Under the utilities’ proposal, the Transitional Distributed Generation program would remain in effect while the PUC works on a permanent replacement program, to be developed through a collaborative process involving stakeholders from across the community, including the solar industry.
“It is unrealistic to expect that the high growth in distributed solar PV capacity additions experienced in the 2010 – 2013 time period can be sustained, in the same technical, economic and policy manner in which it occurred, particularly when electric energy usage is declining, distribution circuit penetration levels are increasing, system level challenges are emerging and grid fixed costs are increasingly being shifted to non-solar PV customers.”