- A recent poll of 405 Oahu, Maui and the Big Island residents paid for by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) found that 94% of Hawaiians want more rooftop solar and 90% believe HECO is slowing the integration of it into the grid.
- Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) denied intentionally slowing rooftop solar interconnections to limit the impact of customer-sourced distributed generation (DG) on its revenues.
- HECO does not lose revenues from increased DG because its current rate structure allows for cost recovery, according to a utility spokesperson who pointed out the utility is 10th in the U.S. for megawatts of installed solar capacity, ahead of bigger utilities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Jersey, and helped grow Hawaii solar 39% in 2013.
Less than half of those polled had a favorable opinion of HECO, according to TASC.
The HECO spokesperson noted the utility doubled rooftop solar on its grid annually from 2008 to 2012 and has an 11% solar penetration on Oahu while utilities in California, Arizona and other sunny states are at 2% to 3%.
HECO’s high DG penetration has resulted in technical issues on the circuit and system level other states are only just now starting to talk about, a HECO source recently told this reporter.
The utility understands its ratepayers' frustration with high electric bills caused primarily by the cost of oil in the Asia-Pacific market, the source said, and is working on battery storage and solar forecasting solutions that will take time without interrupting solar interconnections “on circuits that can handle them safely and reliably.”
HECO is also using research and its growing experience to gradually open the window wider without costly grid integration and interconnection requirements studies and upgrades.