- The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last week approved two new solar programs for customers interested in rooftop panels or energy storage in an effort to expand those resources while also clarifying the terms of existing programs to provide greater certainty.
- The PUC approved a “Smart Export” program which offers a new option for customers installing rooftop solar combined with battery storage. Under the new program, a customer’s energy storage system will recharge during the daytime with energy captured from their solar system and use that energy at night or export it back to the grid.
- Under a new "Controllable CGS” offering — a successor to the popular Customer Grid Supply program —customers can install a solar-only system that exports energy to the electric grid during the daytime while they utilize advanced equipment to manage power from the CGS+ system.
Hawaii's interim compensation rates for residential energy programs offer a wide range of rates depending where you are in the chain of islands. But under the initial terms, regulators say the Smart Export program may accommodate approximately 3,500 to 4,500 customers on the islands of O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, and Hawai‘i.
Credit rates for electricity sent to the grid during non-daytime hours range from almost $0.21/kWh on Lanai, $0.1497/kWh on Oahu, and $0.11/kWh on Hawaii Island.
Regulators expect the CGS+ program to accommodate approximately 5,000 to 6,000 customers on the islands. The Oahu rate for this program would be about $0.10/kWh on Oahu, almost $0.21/kWh on Lanai, and $0.10 on Maui.
Hawaii's grid has struggled to bring intermittent renewable resources online, and has been developing a range of programs that allow for export or non-export options for distributed generation after it terminated its net metering program in 2015. The new rules also grandfather in existing CGS customers for five years; those accounts will continue to receive their current bill credit rate for the next five years.
The programs will include an annual true-up. Energy export credits will be reconciled on an annual basis, say regulators, and excess credits expire at the end of the year — with utility cost reduction benefiting all customers.
The new rules also allow existing net metering customers to add to their systems if they meet certain technical requirements. For instance, the decision clarifies that existing NEM customers can add “non-export” systems and retain their status in the NEM program.