Hawaii rolls out new incentives for rooftop solar power users

Rooftop Solar power project elp 4

By Wednesday new rooftop solar customers in Hawaii will have new incentives available to them but not the state’s longtime net metering program.

Last week the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission announced reforms to its solar and distributed energy programs. The new program caps the net metering program—in which rooftop solar customers can be compensated for energy they send back to the grid—to those who submitted applications by Oct. 12.

Instead, the HPUC will offer incoming rooftop solar customers two new options: grid supply, in which customers on Oahu and Hawaii islands gain fixed-rate credits on their electric bills for excess energy sent to the grid; and self supply, designed to expedite the review and application process for customers with rooftop photovoltaic systems and energy storage in areas with high levels of solar PV.

The commission also is directing Hawaiian Electric companies to develop new time-of-use tariffs which gives customers pricing signals so they can adjust energy demand during times of high solar supply.

“Today, the Hawaii market has reached a level of rooftop solar that far surpasses any state or utility in the US,” the HPUC release stated. “With this success comes new issues and challenges. The energy industry is not static. Hawaii’s energy programs must evolve to address these challenges and, more importantly, to continue the momentum towards achieving the state’s policy goal of 100 percent renewable energy.”

Under the grid supply program, customers on Maui would be credited at about 17 cents per kWh, Molokai at about 24 cents per kWh, and Lanai at about 28 cents per kWh.

Hawaii originally developed its net metering program more than 10 years ago. Excess generation was credited back to the customer’s next bill at the retail rate, while utilities producing excess solar were granted the benefit at the end of the 12-month billing cycle.

The state has been pursuing a goal of having a 100 percent renewable portfolio standard within 30 years.

The new programs will be available beginning Wednesday.

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