- The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has initiated a Hawaii Energy Bill Saver Program designed to increase homeowners’ access to rooftop solar and energy efficiency upgrades with a pair of financing plans done through customers’ electricity bills.
- One plan allows utility customers to pay through an on-bill assessment and the other allows the utilities to allocate part of the payments by customers for their electricity to third parties funders.
- Hawaii’s Act 204 mandated the PUC’s implementation of these kinds of options to make solar and efficiency upgrades available to underserved lower income and renter markets.
In the second option, third party funders own the solar systems/efficiency upgrades and lease them to the customers so the on-bill payment gives the funders a higher certainty of reimbursement because customers tend to pay their electricity bills. The second option is a popular financing plan across the U.S. that eliminates upfront costs and ownership responsibilities and has driven enormous solar expansion in states where it is available.
A consultant’s report to the PUC concluded on-bill financing programs suit Hawaii’s ratepayers. Because of Hawaii’s high power prices, the penetration of solar and energy efficiency is reaching higher levels than anywhere else in the U.S., cutting revenues to the utilities and destabilizing the grid and the increased impact produced by this initiative is likely to provoke either action by those responsible for the grid or a crisis that will produce action.