HECO accused of slowing solar interconnects to max out NextEra merger value
- Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) notified applicants for grid interconnection of rooftop solar arrays in neighborhoods with high PV penetration that it will stop processing applications received after October 22, 2014. Interconnections will not resume until regulators act on its proposal to reduce the solar net energy metering (NEM) remuneration schedule, KITV reports.
- HECO said the notification was mischaracterized by “a national solar group” as an effort to limit access until the lower than retail NEM rate is approved. It was intended to protect customers in neighborhoods with over 120% feeder penetration.
- The newly appointed Chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) said in response to a request by The Alliance for Solar Choice that he will consult with HECO. Solar advocates say an installation slowdown by HECO could be an effort to boost its financials ahead of the close of its NextEra merger.
HECO reported over 3,000 interconnection applications processed since the beginning of 2015. 548 Oahu new applications were completed from a 2,749 application backlog. The utility promised to clear 90% of that backlog by April and the rest by year's end.
With 331 applications in high PV penetration areas just approved, Maui Electric has nearly cleared its backlog. Hawaii Electric Light reported it is reviewing 336 applications and beginning approvals.
HECO filed a Transitional Distributed Generation (TDG) program with the PUC in January. It includes a cut in the credit solar owners earn for electricity sent to the grid. Instead of the retail electricity rate of $0.295 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), Oahu solar owners would get a TDG-estimated tariff rate of $0.147 per kWh; on Maui, solar owners would go from $0.351 per kWh to $0.223 per kWh; and on Hawaii, the credit would drop from $0.359 to $0.18.6 per kWh.