- Sunrun, the third largest U.S residential solar installer by market share, has completed its first BrightBox solar-plus-storage system in Hawaii, the company announced on its website.
- BrightBox combines Sunrun’s solar power generation with smart inverter technology and home battery storage — in this case, Powerwall units from Tesla.
- The installation is the company's first under Hawaiian Electric’s new customer self-supply program, which along with HECO’s grid-supply tariff option, provides homeowners who install new solar panels on their roofs a replacement tariff for the state’s recently ended net metering program.
Solar-plus-storage could have a bright future in Hawaii. Combining energy storage with rooftop solar is being touted as an economic alternative to the state’s recently ended net metering program. Storage would allow customers to use plentiful solar power during the middle of the day to charge batteries that could offset purchases of utility power in the evening.
Under HECO’s customer self-supply option, PV customers with energy storage are eligible for an expedited review and approval of their systems in areas of high PV penetration, but they are restricted in the amount of electricity they can send back to the grid and do not receive any compensation for these exports. Under the grid-supply option, PV customers can export electricity to the grid but are compensated at a lower rate than provided under the net metering program.
The prospects of solar-plus-storage could be enhanced if legislation that could be introduced in the state’s next legislative session is passed that could propose to extend tax credits for storage or offer rebates for storage, or both.
The BrightBox installation was done at the home of HECO customer Anthony Aalto in Honolulu and was attended by Hawaiian Gov. David Ige (D) and Kirk Caldwell, mayor of Honolulu.
Sunrun offers its BrightBox system to new solar customers in Hawaii through a monthly or prepaid lease at prices below utility prices. On Oahu, prices start at $0.19/kWh, well below the island's average 2013 electricity price of over $0.36/kWh, though prices have dropped recently due to lower oil prices.
Sunrun says it anticipates being able to offer BrightBox or similar energy storage products to homeowners in other U.S. regions later this year.
“We’re incredibly excited about this new chapter in Hawaii’s journey towards cleaner energy and that they chose to share it with us," the company said on its website.