- Hawaii’s lawmakers are hammering out differences on a bill S.B. 2738 that would offer greater incentives and rebates for people who buy batteries and store their renewable energy, the Associated Press reports.
- The Senate bill encouraged battery storage sales by offering tax breaks for 25% of the costs, while the House lawmakers pushed a rebate program that would help low-income familes purchase solar or other renewable systems and pay it off through their utility bill.
- A conference committee is set to reconcile both proposals so that lawmakers can come to a consensus on a final version.
Hawaii has the highest per capita installed solar in the U.S. It also has the highest electricity costs. Lawmakers are now considering the steps necessary to sustain growth versus the opportunity to taper expenses and design proper market price signals through battery purchase incentives.
The bill is in conference committee now as both Legislative chambers debate the best way to offer incentives. Some House lawmakers believe that a rebate program would be more preferable to a tax incentive, arguing that the rebate would help low-income families purchase solar or other renewable energy systems by allowing them to pay off the costs through their utility bill. Tax incentives only help people who already had the means to purchase the system, they said according to the news outlet.
Hawaii lawmakers have been circling around a better path to encourage renewable energy storage for a while, as the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last year created two new credits (tariffs) to replace net metering. A grid-supply option replaces NEM’s retail rate credit for electricity sent to the grid by customers' solar systems with a tariff, guaranteed for two years, to be based on the avoided costs of generation during peak generation hours.
The self-supply option allows a limited amount of inadvertent energy exportation to the grid without any compensation. Residential customers who choose this option will have a minimum bill of $25, while small commercial customers will have a $50 minimum bill.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission last year created two new credits (tariffs) to replace net metering. A grid-supply option replaces net metering’s retail rate credit for electricity sent to the grid by customers' solar systems with a tariff that is guaranteed for two years and based on the avoided costs of generation during peak generation hours.
Through its renewable energy incentive programs, Hawaii gave out more than $118 million tax credits in 2013 and more than $179 million in 2012, according to the most recent data available from the state’s tax department, according to the Associated Press.