Hawaii’s Electric Company Suffers National Humiliation (Forbes)

Panos Prevedouros, a professor of engineering at the University of Hawaii
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Panos Prevedouros, PHD, professor of Engineering at the University of Hawaii

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – On September 6, 2013, Hawaiian Electric Company or HECO changed the rules for connecting solar systems. Based on DBEDT data, the number of residential permits in December 2012 were 2,452.  With the new rules in effect, the number of residential permits in December 2013 were 1,218, a 50.3% reduction.

FORBES:  A Hawaiian utility has tried to slow the growth of solar. In December, Hawaiian Electric Company shut down rooftop solar installations, citing “grid stability.”

“That’s another bullshit argument,” said Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist who served as energy secretary from 2009 to April, 2013. Solar installations don’t threaten grid stability until they approach 20% of the customer base, Chu said. In Hawaii solar is at 2%.


(Hawaiian Electric disputes Chu’s 2% figure, and spokeswoman Lynn Unemori says the company has not halted solar installations, but has adopted “a more cautious approach to applications for new PV systems on circuits with a large amount of PV already installed, solely for reasons of safety and reliability.” ) END QUOTE

But Roy Skaggs of Alternate Energy, Inc. won’t let Lynn’s “word-smithed” response stand:


To quote Mr. Chu above, that’s a bullshit response. The only thing I agree with you on, is that rooftop solar has exceeded 2%. The rest of your canned response is the same vomit regurgitated by Scott Seu and sadly what we have been sometimes even seeing from the PUC. HECO has blocked many people, including ones who you were supposed to grandfather. This “approving new installations daily” statement is so exaggerated that you would have to work for HECO to believe it. But hey, I guess if you approve 1 installation a day and block 20, then you can get away with that line!

How can you say HECO “strongly supports” PV? Since September, the entire industry has been cast away by HECO. How many hundreds of lost jobs and millions of dollars does it take before HECO admits they do not support anything but their own profit margins? You have hundreds of customers stuck in limbo for months who signed contracts and committed to PV before Sept 6th, and HECO has still not resolved those poor families troubles. Many are paying bank loans AND HECO!

And let’s talk for a second about this “grid saturation” that HECO holds onto and tries to pass off as truth. Scott Seu admitted in front of Senators and Representatives in October that there are grids over 200% DML. Where are the voltage spikes of record? Surely, with such “unsafe” levels, HECO would have examples to provide, right? The newest delay HECO is pushing is something already in place. The inverters being used by most, if not every single company, have protection in place from the bogus claims of “voltage spikes” that HECO has been spewing. These fast trip invereters are there and have been there. So why are solar companies just now getting word to provide proof that the inverters do indeed have this in place? We have been telling you they do for months.

What is HECO’s next delay tactic? The jig is up. More and more news outlets and industry professionals, like Mr. Chu, are calling you on your bullshit. If HECO doesn’t work with solar and the customers who want it, you will soon go the way of the land line.

How can a monopoly tell hard working Americans that they cannot capture the free sun on their own rooftops? You can’t. This is a losing battle for HECO. Innovate or go extinct.

Roy Skaggs

PS–Also recall that HEI president Connie Lau lead Move Oahu Forward… the big bucks lobby that is inflicting heavy rail on Oahu.





  1. I applied for and was moving forward with solar, but encountered another stall tactic from HECO.

    In my case, they said I needed to move my electrical meter, which had been in the same place for the past 55 years, to another location on my house, about as far from the existing meter and from the existing power connection to the building as could be humanly conceived. It was also as far away as possible from any existing water pipe ground connection, as possible.

    What this did was tack a $4,000.00 charge onto my PV installation cost in order to move the meter to the location specified by HECO.

    HECO would not reconsider their decision, and the extra expense of moving the meter drove the monthly cost of the PV installation to be higher than my current electrical bill. As a result, I cancelled the contract.

    HECO needs to wise up. Their monopoly is going down the toilet. They need to find a different revenue model.

  2. HECO is absolutely the WORST company ever! They have a monopoly on power here. They have the most inept services, from their sketchy product to their non-existent customer service. Their hours and locations for customers are awful. They make paying your bill a pain – unless you are in the ice age and still pay with a check in the mail. This company is arrogant and doesn't care about its customers. This company only cares about their stockholders. And I HOPE with all my heart this company goes the way of the land line. We were involved trying to sue HECO/HELCO to prevent their wild expansion of a pollution spewing plant at the Kona Airport. They are the worst.

  3. HEI president Connie Lau's big bucks salary as well as benefits from the Move Oahu Forward lobby. She'll leave Oahu after rail's completed.

    • Good question! Here's Abercrombie's ph. no.;586-0034
      No success for me when I left him a message….good luck!

  4. i was just considering what is Chu describe. finally i found that the governor does not take any steps about on this. we all hope all the matter has been solved quickly.

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