Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) reports a surge in interest in its self-supply solar power program, one of two interim options created to replace the state’s net metering program.
HECO says it has received 234 customer self-supply applications, up from about 50 applications in early October.
- Nearly 100 of those applications have been approved and are ready for installation.
Hawaii, often called a postcard from the future when it comes to integrating renewable resources, is entering the next phase of progression toward 100% renewable energy by 2045.
After cancelling its net metering program in October 2015, the state’s Public Utilities Commission came up with two interim compensation options until a more permanent replacement can be put in place.
Under the self-supply option customers pay a fixed minimum amount on their bills and are allowed a limited amount of inadvertent exports of solar power to the grid.
Under the customer grid supply program, customers can export electricity to the grid, but are paid are paid a fixed rate between $0.15/kWh and $0.28/kWh, instead of being paid retail rates.
So far, the grid-connected option has been more popular. As of August, there were 2,000 applications for grid-connected service and only 34 for self-supply service.
The grid-connected program has proven so popular that it is reaching its caps, causing concern among solar developers and a slowdown in sector employment.
In that context, the surge in self-supply options is a welcome development. The tariff is designed to incentivize the adoption of behind-the-meter storage systems to help customers use more of their generated power, but it is yet unclear how many of the new self-supply participants have taken that step.
"Things are just getting started,” Jim Alberts, HECO senior vice president of customer service, said in a statement. “Solar power is still a viable option, and we expect more customers to install self-supply systems as they learn more about the program," he said.