One year ago, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission made the fateful decision to end the Net Energy Metering program and replace it with Customer Grid-Supply and Customer Self-Supply, resulting in a steady decline in PV projects, customer choice and solar employment.
Even worse, Grid-Supply is now closed and Self-Supply continues to stumble for a variety of reasons, including utility and permitting implementation delays. Further, when PUC issued its long-awaited order in September creating a Time-of-Use (TOU) rate, its structure offered fewer benefits than expected. The TOU program is “interim” and only guaranteed for two-years, which is too short a time period to have a significant impact on customers considering investments in battery storage.
Notwithstanding these challenges, there may be light on the horizon: on October 3rd, the PUC announced the beginning of Phase 2 of the DER docket (2014-0192), which promises a new era of more stable and consistent renewable energy policy. However, even the beginning of Phase 2 does not change the urgent need to improve the GridSupply, Self-Supply and TOU programs. HSEA remains hopeful that the PUC will work first with stakeholders to raise the Grid-Supply cap and make other important reforms pending the development of more permanent renewable energy interconnection programs.
“The abrupt end of Grid-Supply has pushed the local solar industry to the brink of collapse, and swift action is needed prevent more layoffs and harm to customers,” said HSEA President Rick Reed. “Consumer demand remains high and PV technology is better than ever, but without stable and consistent policies, we can’t move forward to 100% renewable,” continued Reed.
- PV Application Approvals: Grid-Supply: 22% decrease from last month, marking the end of five consecutive months of growth. Further declines will continue now that HECO has stopped processing new applications. Self-Supply: P.O. Box 37070 Honolulu, Hawaii 96837 SOLAR HOTLINE (808)232-8371 2 applications increased modestly, but only two (2) systems have closed permits and utility permission to operate.
- Solar Employment: since October 2015, solar jobs are down 42%
- PV Interconnection: systems energized in August down 5.1% from last month.
- Building Permits: 328 solar PV permits were pulled between September 1st -28th . 7 of these permits were for energy storage systems.