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A Good FIT for Hawai‘i

The feed-in tariff decision.

October 15, 2009
Chris Mentzel, CEO of Clean Energy Maui LLC

Gov. Linda Lingle and HECO asked PUC to develop a FIT on Oct. 20 of last year. Since then, a small group of industry insiders and volunteer climate warriors spent untold hours in order to devise a FIT framework that would work. While it is not perfect, it’s a good first step toward allowing more players into the clean energy market.

Here are some key-points of the decision as it pertains to Maui County:

During the next two years, projects totaling 12 MW (5 percent of the grid) can apply for FIT rates on Maui. At least 600 kW are reserved for projects up to 20 kW. Wind projects can’t exceed 100 kW in size, while solar photovoltaic projects up to 250 kW and concentrated solar power up to 500 kW enjoy a streamlined application process. The maximum size for solar and inline hydro projects will be 2.72 MW. A low baseline rate will cover many other technologies, such as geothermal, and the same maximum size will apply.

Article Photos

Clean Energy for Maui

On Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i, only projects up to 100 kW are permitted to use FIT rates (up to a total of 5 percent of the grid size). All rates will be level over a 20-year term. Net Energy Metering will still be a parallel option, and there will be a one-time opportunity to decide whether to use it or the FIT rates for a project.

The commission will determine the application process and individual rates within the next few months. Because of the 12 MW cap, there will likely be a significant application fee to deter frivolous applications. Unfortunately the rates will be based on O‘ahu costs and may be a little low for Maui.

In a nutshell, this decision will bring a number of new clean energy systems to Hawai‘i and help us grow out of our dependency on oil. While it is far from Germany’s clean-tech revolution, it makes Hawai‘i one of the first states with a FIT.

 
 
 

 

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