HECO streamlines solar power installation requirements

September 20, 2012 2:22 pm 0 comments

HECO SolarIt will now be faster and simpler for many residential and some small commercial customers to receive approval for on-site solar photovoltaic installations without worrying about the need for a possible interconnection study, Hawaiian Electric announced today.

As of October 1, most residential and some commercial customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company can install certified single-phase PV systems up to 10 kW on single-phase transformers and participate in Net Energy Metering (NEM) with no interconnection study.

In addition, any customer of the three companies who paid for an interconnection study and system upgrades to install a 10 kW or smaller single-phase PV system will be refunded the cost of the study and any upgrades.

“To help our customers cope with high electricity bills due to high fuel costs, we promised we would find ways to encourage them to install more solar,” said Colton Ching, Hawaiian Electric vice president for system operation & planning. “The last quarter of each year is the busiest for PV installations. This change should make the move to PV for many customers simpler and faster.

“Every year since 2008, customer-sited PV has at least doubled over the year before and we’re on course for the same in 2012. Operating experience with some of the highest PV penetration in the nation on our companies’ grids has made this new approach possible. This experience, coupled with technical studies conducted with other experts, gives us confidence that we can make this change and still ensure reliable service for our customers,” Ching said.

“This is a step in the right direction and the timing could not be better,” said Brad Albert, co-owner of Rising Sun Solar on Maui and founder of the Hawaii PV Coalition. “We enjoy a very good working relationship with the utilities, and appreciate their continued support for renewable energy. This shows they are listening to the concerns of their customers and the solar industry.”

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, a national non-profit that monitors renewable energy progress and collects data for the federal government, also applauded the move.

“The Interstate Renewable Energy Council views this is a significant and positive step that will help residential and small commercial customers maintain the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively interconnect PV on the Hawaiian Islands,” said Kevin Fox, a spokesman for the organization. “IREC believes this announcement helps demonstrate a commitment of the Hawaiian Electric Companies to facilitate customer installations of PV systems and other small renewable generators.”

A customer, or contractor on customer’s behalf, must still provide to the utility a signed NEM application with all supporting paperwork before installing the PV system and the county building permit must be closed before the NEM agreement can be finalized for the customer to begin receiving full retail credit for all excess renewable electricity sent to the grid in the next billing cycle.

For single-phase 10 kW or smaller systems, the new checkpoint before a possible interconnection study may be needed will be 75% of the minimum daytime electrical load. This 75% checkpoint will allow more PV installations without interconnection studies than the previous 50% of minimum load threshold for small installations set last November by the Public Utilities Commission. The new standard will increase the capacity for added PV without further interconnection studies on the majority of circuits in the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ service territories.

On a few circuits, an interconnection study may still be needed because a high level of intermittent renewable energy like PV on a neighborhood circuit can result in service disruptions and safety hazards. The study can determine what upgrades are needed to ensure that safe, reliable service and power quality is maintained for all customers on that circuit, whether they have PV or not.

For larger NEM installations, as well as larger Feed-in Tariff or Standard Interconnection Agreement installations, the threshold for possible interconnection study will remain at 15% of peak or 50% of the daily minimum load to ensure grid reliability as required by the Public Utilities Commission rules (Rule 14-H).

To help customers be knowledgeable PV consumers, Hawaiian Electric has developed a new and growing online Solar Resource Center at goingsolar.heco.com with information on choosing a contractor, financing the installation, siting and sizing PV on their roof or property and more.

Further, Hawaiian Electric continues to encourage customers to consider adding solar water heating to reduce their electricity use. Many customers who may not otherwise be able to take advantage of PV can enjoy the money-saving benefits of solar water heating. The Public Utilities Commission is still reviewing Hawaiian Electric’s proposal to allow customers, including renters, to add solar water heating on roof-tops with no money upfront though an on-bill financing program.

Leave a Reply

Other News

  • Technology Tourism HVCB Seeks Digital Marketing Coordinator

    HVCB Seeks Digital Marketing Coordinator

    The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), tasked with creating “sustainable, diversified, travel destination demand” for the Hawaiian Islands, is seeking a Digital Marketing Coordinator. “This person’s main job function will be to generate great Hawaii content for our various communication channels – gohawaii.com, our blog, enewsletters and social,” explains Kara Imai, the HVCB’s Senior Director of Digital Marketing. “They should have excellent writing skills and also be able to recognize and manage other good freelance content creators.” While it’s […]

    Read more →
  • Education Featured Windward District’s Science Fair Marks 28th Year

    Windward District’s Science Fair Marks 28th Year

    More than 200 students from 31 Windward Oahu schools will present over 160 projects at the annual Windward District’s Science and Engineering Fair.

    Setup begins today at Windward Community College, with judging tomorrow morning and displays open to the public in the afternoon. Winners will be announced on Saturday.

    This year marks the event’s 28th year, and the three-day program is organized by vice principals from schools spanning from Waimanalo to Sunset Beach. In addition to the competition, it offers sixth- through tenth-graders several breakout sessions and presentations by college professors as a way to inspire Hawaii’s future scientists.

    Read more →
  • Art Education Featured Updates Sheet metal roses return for Valentine’s Day

    Sheet metal roses return for Valentine’s Day

    The annual “Forever Rose” sale by the Sheet Metal and Plastics Program at HCC started as a bet over 15 years ago.

    “An apprenticeship student challenged me to make a rose out of sheet metal,” recalls Danny Aiu, Associate Professor of the program. “That night with a strip of sheet metal I molded a rose with my hands. Today, our students apply their skills by operating a plasma cutter, chemicals and other tools used in the trade to create each rose one by one.”

    Read more →
  • Environment Featured Science Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

    Hawaii lab finds dramatic shift in Pacific ecosystem

    The Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) has enabled scientists to determine that a long-term shift in nitrogen content in the Pacific Ocean has occurred as a result of climate change. Researchers observed overall nitrogen fixation in the North Pacific Ocean has increased by about 20 percent since the mid 1800s and this long-term change appears to be continuing today, according to a study published recently in the journal, Nature.

    Using chemical information locked in organic skeletal layers, the team used these ancient deep corals as detailed recorders of changes at the base of the open Pacific food web over the last 1,000 years. This represents the first detailed biogeochemical records for the planet’s largest contiguous ecosystem. This type of sample is only available using deep-diving submersibles, such as those operated by HURL.

    Read more →
  • Environment Featured Publicity Science Television ‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

    ‘Voice of the Sea’ TV series debuts in January

    A new television show highlighting ocean and coastal scientists and cultural experts from Hawaii and the Pacific will debut on January 5, 2014. “Voice of the Sea” will be broadcast on on KVFE (Channel 5 and 1005) on Sundays at 6:00 p.m.

    The show is hosted by Dr. Kanesa Duncan Seraphin, world paddleboard champion, shark researcher, and science education expert.

    Dr. Seraphin, director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Center of Excellence in Marine Science Education and associate professor at the Curriculum Research & Development Group in the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, has traveled across the Pacific to bring stories of relevance to Hawaii. Each half-hour episode profiles local science and cultural celebrities and presents thought-provoking information in an exciting, original, reality-based way.

    Read more →
  • Art People Publicity HIFF names new Executive Director

    HIFF names new Executive Director

    As part of the Hawaii International Film Festival’s (HIFF) business continuity strategy, the HIFF Board of Directors announces that, effective January 1, 2014, current HIFF Executive Director, Chuck Boller, will transition to a new Director Emeritus role and Deputy Director, Robert Lambeth, will transition to Executive Director. Designed to support HIFF’s long-term film exhibition and education strategies, Mr. Boller will now focus primarily on fundraising and establishing a new HIFF Foundation. HIFF Board President and Chairman, Owen Ogawa, said: “Chuck […]

    Read more →
  • Featured History Television Tourism Battleship Missouri Screens Special ‘Five-0′ Episode

    Battleship Missouri Screens Special ‘Five-0′ Episode

    Starting this Saturday, December 7 through December 13, visitors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial will enjoy a special sneak preview of the ‘Hawaii Five-0′ episode that will later air nationwide on Friday, December 13, 9PM ET/PT, on the CBS Television Network.

    Titled ‘Ho‘onani Makuakane’ (‘Honor Thy Father’), the episode focuses on the attempted murder of a Pearl Harbor veteran that leads ‘Five-0′ to use decades old evidence to investigate a deadly crime committed within the internment camps holding Americans of Japanese ancestry on Oahu during World War II. A remembrance ceremony using actual World War II veterans was filmed at the Battleship Missouri Memorial.

    The ‘Hawaii Five-0′ episode in its entirety will be projected onto a large video screen in the Missouri’s educational classroom, which is air-conditioned and located one deck below the main deck next to the Mess Hall.

    Read more →
  • Government Media Television State blasts ‘American Jungle’ shoot in Hawaii

    State blasts ‘American Jungle’ shoot in Hawaii

    In response to The History Channel’s new series “American Jungle,” the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), as well as representatives of hunting, animal protection and film agencies in Hawaii, find the series’ depiction of hunting activities on the Island of Hawaii to be inaccurate, offensive, and in some cases, potentially illegal.

    The DLNR Division of Conservation Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) is currently conducting an investigation into whether several of DLNR’s rules and regulations may have been broken during the filming of the program. Activities such as night hunting both on public and private land, are illegal under Hawaii Revised Statues §183D-27 and Hawaii Administrative Rules §13-123-6. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), which oversees DLNR’s hunting program, denied a permit request last spring for the production to film on state forest lands.

    Read more →