Regulators: HECO must continue to interconnect rooftop solar systems
- Hawaiian Electric Co and state regulators have reached an agreement directing the utility to continue connecting customers with rooftop solar systems to the grid, the Star Advertiser reports.
- HECO wants to triple the amount of distributed solar on its system and achieve 65% renewable use by 2030, but had said the proliferation of rooftop systems was making the grid unstable. The utility notified customers last week that it would halt interconnects in high-solar neighborhoods until regulators reduced the solar net metering rate.
- The agreement also states that HECO may not make unilateral decisions on rooftop solar interconnects, affirms the Public Utilities Commission's ability to determine what is in the best interest of customers, and directs the utility to inform regulators whenever it denies a system.
Customers waiting to connect their rooftop solar systems to the grid got some good news last week when HECO signed an agreement cedeing that state regulators and not the utility are in charge.
The agreement, signed by both head of the PUC Randy Iwase and HECO CEO Alan Oshima, said: "Stated simply, the policy is that the HECO Companies have an affirmative duty to interconnect a potential customer."
Last week the utility issued a statement saying that contrary to some reports, HECO is "continuing to accept solar photovoltaic applications through the current net energy metering process, which includes a technical review for safety and reliability. The companies are also making significant progress clearing pending applications on circuits that already have very high amounts of solar."
Overall, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light continue to lead the nation in rooftop PV, they said. An estimated 12% of the utilities’ customers have rooftop solar system.
According to the utility, a recent letter to some Hawaii Electric Light customers who submitted applications for projects in areas of Hawaii Island with high amounts of solar was "mischaracterized by a national solar group as an effort by the Hawaiian Electric Companies to stop all solar installations."
“We apologize for the confusion and want to assure our customers that we are continuing to process solar applications. We are reviewing our notification procedures to improve communication with our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.
- Star Advertiser PUC orders HECO to approve solar systems
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