- The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) submitted its plan for a community based renewable energy (CBRE) tariff to the Hawaii Public Commission for approval. The filing meets the dictate of the 2015 legislature’s Act 100, which calls on the state’s utilities “to make the benefits of renewable energy generation more accessible to a greater number of Hawaii residents."
- The cooperative’s community shared renewables program will meet Act 100’s provision that “all Hawaii residents should be able to participate,” the filing reports. The CBRE will give those without suitable property for distributed solar and wind the opportunity to subscribe to a portion of the generation from utility-scale renewable facilities and have their utility bills credited for it.
- More than 40% of Hawaii households rent and 37% live in multifamily properties, restricting their access to the benefits of rooftop solar and other distributed resources.
Residential customers who choose to participate must subscribe to at least a 250 watt portion of the shared central generation but may subscribe to as much as 1 kW. Commercial participants must subscribe to at least a 1 kW portion, but may subscribe to as much as 100 kW. Large power participants' minimum subscription is a 100 kW portion but they may subscribe to as much as 1 MW.
Each of those three sectors of the KIUC CBRE offering will subscribe through 20 year power purchase agreements (PPAs) at a rate that now ranges from $0.101/kWh to $0.145/kWh. Act 100 dictates the rates can be no more than $0.194/kWh. Each of the three subscribing sectors will be capped at one-third of total 3 MW of community renewables capacity planned by KIUC.
In their filing for approval with state regulators, KIUC officials touted that a participant will not be "acquiring any actual ownership interest in the Eligible Renewable Energy Projects, and thus is not assuming any maintenance, operation, insurance or other obligations.”
That makes the program appealing for the large portion of Hawaii residents cut out of the residential solar market by virtue of not owning a single family home with a suitable site for distributed generation. While growing numbers of Hawaiians with suitable properties are reducing their electricity rates — the highest in the nation at over $0.35/kWh — those without have been stuck paying for grid power largely generated by imported fuel oil.
Nationwide, analysts estimate that about half of U.S. households do nto have suitable roofs for solar installation, creating the potential for robust community solar programs from coast to coast.