Hawaii & Solar or, more bad news

Dive Brief:

  • Hawaii's decision last year to end its retail rate net metering program has led to a contraction in the solar industry, and observers say more job losses are on the way, the Associated Press reports. 
  • Currently, installers appear to be working through a backlog of approved solar projects and those still in the queue which will still receive the ful retail rate for the energy sent back to the grid. But once those projects are completed, solar companies appear poised to pack up shop or shift to more lucrative energy installations.
  • Hawaii Circuit Court in January upheld state regulators' decision to replace the program. The Alliance for Solar Choice had filed a lawsuit, alleging the changes were made with insufficient notice or review, but the judge upheld the state's decision.

Dive Insight:

Hawaii's solar policy changes are having a predictable effect: More than half of install companies on the island have reduced or plan to reduce their workforce, the result of lower solar rates making rooftop systems less attractive.

According to the AP, 10 of Hawaii's 16 solar companies have indicated they will downsize, and its possible the trend will accelerate as solar projects still being considered for the full retail rate are approved and completed.

“Frankly, the industry is living off of these approvals,” Jae Kwak, chief financial officer for Haleakala Solar, told The Times. “As those get built, there is going to be more hardships. There is going to be more job losses.”

Earlier this month, Hawaiian Electric Co. said it was still reviewing 1,175 applications.

According to the Hawiia Public Utilities Commission, the net metering program was capped to protect the stability of the state's grid against Hawaii's uniquely high penetration of distributed solar. From here out, new rooftop solar users will have to choose from two other payback schemes.

The self-supply option – a non-export option – allows a limited amount of inadvertent energy exportation to the grid without any compensation. Residential customers who choose this option will have a minimum bill of $25, while small commercial customers will have a $50 minimum bill.

The grid-supply option will open the door for exporting excess energy to the grid for credits against customer bills so long as the exports benefit the electric system. While similar to net metering, this option does not credit customers at the retail rate. Instead, the new grid-supply programs credits customers at a fixed rate between $0.15/kWh to $0.28/kWh, depending on the island on which they are located. 

Net metered systems have increased by over 60 times the cap established by the initial 1996 legislation that set up NEM for Hawaiian Electric customers, and program capacity now runs from 30% to more than half of system peak load, depending on the island. Nearly 20% of all customers of the Oahu and Maui subsidiary utilities have net metered distributed generation.

While some solar installation companies are downsizing or looking to move employees into other markets, others are working to remain afloat in the new marketspace. “They have just plain given up on selling,”  Rolf Christ, CEO of R&R Solar Supply, told AP. “They just are installing what got approved. Some are leaving the state. Some are moving from (photovoltaic systems) to lighting contracting.”

Recommended Reading

AP via Washington Times: Solar companies struggle with end to incentive program

"we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
 http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
E-mail [email protected]

Comments

  • XizangXizang Posts: 50Registered Users ✭✭
    Once someone starts detonating EMP devices and taking down the power grids around the world, solar will be the only  viable option for reliable electricity.
  • Mountain DonMountain Don Posts: 493Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Only if you've got a second (,third...) set of electronics stored in a metal box.....
    Northern NM, 624 watts PV, The Kid CC, GC-2 batteries @ 24 VDC, Outback VFX3524M
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 3,874Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Those Sears metal sheds are great if you ground them!      Maybe an SPD or 2. Cheers Don!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • Blindowl1234Blindowl1234 Posts: 43Registered Users ✭✭
    Those Sears metal sheds are great if you ground them!      Maybe an SPD or 2. Cheers Don!
    That's good to know. I've got one of those metal sheds and maybe I'll ground it since my riding mower is in there. At least I can mow grass lol
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 3,874Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    The really sad part about Hawaii is they have mandated 100% renewable by 2022 I think and they won't replace the Diesel or Bunker oil generators with natural gas.  They really have a challenge that most doubt is achievable. Better get use to not having air conditioning.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • zonebluezoneblue Posts: 1,218Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Cant they use some old craters or something for pumped water storage?  Efficiency is something like 50% but still a whole lot cheaper than diesel. And thats today, tomorow when oil goes back up... no brainer.
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • kaipo_boykaipo_boy Posts: 143Solar Expert ✭✭

    I think the feds just voted a few months ago to extend the 30% tax incentives for a few more years on a declining scale as we get nearer 2022?  Does anyone know if the State of Hawaii is also following suit? there is a 35% tax incentive from the State right now that is good through the end of this year, 2016, but I believe that's currently slated to die on the vine next year.

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 3,874Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Hawaii is a state in the USA.  Of course the federal laws for the Photovoltaic and Domestic hot water 30% incentives apply until 2019.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • kaipo_boykaipo_boy Posts: 143Solar Expert ✭✭
    edited April 2016 #10

    Thanks Dave. No, the federal incentive is 30%. Hawaii has another 35% on top of that, so the total tax offset becomes 65% when you add them if you put the system into service in 2016 (to a max of $5k per year per system, but if you have excess credits they can carry forward to your next tax year). Now, the feds have said OK to several more years of their 30%... but I don't know if Hawaii has signaled their continuation of their 35% into the same period. 

    thanks,

    walt

  • Mountain DonMountain Don Posts: 493Solar Expert ✭✭✭
    Northern NM, 624 watts PV, The Kid CC, GC-2 batteries @ 24 VDC, Outback VFX3524M
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 3,874Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    In most states, you have to be grid connected to get their  state credits!  So, are you not offgrid? Don's link should tell you all you need to know.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

Sign In or Register to comment.