- Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) is launching a 260 kW community solar pilot project that would, if approved by regulators, allow about 50 utility customers to own portions of the output of a central station array.
- The state legislature’s just-enacted Senate Bill 1050 directs utilities to file plans with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission by October 1 for how they will develop and market community solar projects.
- A typical 500 kW per month residential customer would pay $5,711 plus a $200 enrollment fee for the biggest available share in HECO's pilot. A bill credit for that share’s output should cut that customer’s monthly bill about 45% at current rates. Ownership can be held up to 17 years but can be given up. To protect subscribers from solar variability, HECO will guarantee 80% of the expected savings.
The pilot will market existing solar capacity at HECO’s Waiau and Campbell Industrial Park solar power plants. The program is designed to give HECO the know-how to expand community solar offerings.
HECO is considering turning a planned 50 MW array on land leased to the utility by the U.S. Navy at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam into a community solar project.
Community solar offers subscribers without solar-suitable roofs the benefits of owning solar such as reduced cost and long term fixed price electricity. New data in the DOE’s Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation shows an estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host solar.
“By opening the market,” it reports, “shared solar could represent 32% to 49% of the distributed PV market in 2020, leading to cumulative PV deployment growth in 2015 to 2020 of 5.5 GW to 11.0 GW, and representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment.”
That market could be especially lucrative in Hawaii, the state with the highest electricity prices in the nation, as consumers search for ways to cut their electricity bills.