Public Utilities Commission Overturns Hawaiian Electric Companies Grid Supply Decision
Updated Saturday 21 October 2017
In a Decision and Order issued today, the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission approved two new programs that will expand opportunities for customers to install rooftop solar and battery energy storage systems, while clarifying terms of existing programs to provide greater certainty for customers who have already invested in a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system.
Follow the link for more information on the smart export program:
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How to check if you will get approved
The Hawaiian Electric Companies (HEI) will close the Customer Grid-Supply (CGS) programs that credit home solar customers for the excess electricity they send to the grid this Saturday, October 21st. As of October 10th, the program had the following capacity remaining for rooftop solar.
The main benefit of the CGS program is the customer’s ability to receive financial credit for selling excess solar energy back to the utility grid. The current prices being offered for your exported solar energy by the various utilities are as follows.
The utility companies are expected to announce new, lower prices for CGS exported energy in the next few weeks.
Of course, there are hundreds of CGS applications are already in line for processing. Please check where you are in the line:
How do I check the status of my application?
If you are near the front of the line, there is a slim chance that you may still be approved for CGS, especially if you live on Oahu. If you are on Maui or the Big Island, and you see lots of people ahead of you in line, it’s probably time to start thinking about Customer Self-Supply (CSS).
Grid supply approvals are good for 18 months from the approval date. If you are already approved for grid-supply but need more time to install your project, you can apply for an additional 90 days to install your project here – 90 Day Form
What happens if I am not approved for Grid Supply?
Customer Self-Supply (CSS) is the home solar program of the present and the future in Hawaii. CSS requires customers to install home solar panel systems that do not export power to the utility grid. The systems that we are installing for these customers normally incorporate the use of energy storage devices, like home solar batteries.
CSS home solar panel systems that include home batteries still qualify for federal and state tax credits. CSS customers can take the federal tax credit on the cost of the solar panels, the inverter and the home battery, but the state tax credit is limited to the cost of the solar panels and inverter.
All power produced by the customer’s system will need to be used or stored to be used by the customer at a later time. The utility does not allow export of any power to the utility grid. Therefore, there are no financial credits for export.
CSS home solar system owners will pay a minimum monthly bill of $25 to connect to the utility.
On the positive side, CSS systems are generally approved faster than the older solar programs which means you can get installed faster than ever before and start saving.
Is CSS home solar still worth it?
100%! The ability to install a home battery gives home solar customers more benefits than customers without batteries.
The first benefit of self-supply is the ability to use all the energy that your system produces. Instead of exporting solar energy that you don’t immediately use at home to the utility grid, self-supply customers store this energy for use after the sun goes down at night. Okay, you don’t get to sell this back to the utility like net metered customers, but you do have the peace of mind that you are using clean, cheap energy at night, instead of burning diesel fuel.
The second, and increasingly talked about, benefit is back-up. Only solar customers with a battery installed at home will have back-up when the grid goes down. You might not think that battery backup is an issue for you if you live in Honolulu, but many neighborhoods in Hawaii suffer from regular power outages.
In hurricane season those outages can be pretty bad, and in the worse cases thousands of people can lose power for days. We only have to think back to Hurricane Iniki in 1992 when all of Kauai and many people of Oahu lost power for days, or December 2008 when a bad storm knocked out power for 900,000 people on Oahu for 12 hours.
If you don’t have a home battery installed as part of your solar panel system, then you will lose power in a grid outage.
If you install a DC-coupled home battery like the LG Chem Resu or the Tesla Powerwall 1 then you will be able to back-up a few plugs for a limited time. If you install an AC-coupled home battery like the Tesla Powerwall 2, then you will enjoy ‘whole-home’ back-up, covering all loads up to 200 Amps. The more batteries you install, the more loads you will be able to back-up for longer.
Home solar panel systems now deliver the promise of power when the grid goes down.
Get your utility CSS application started here – https://forms.hawaiianelectric.com/
Utility CSS FAQ here – https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/customer-service/frequently-asked-questions
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