According to a September HECO news release, Hawaiian Electric (HECO), Maui Electric and Hawai'i Electric Light Companies are making procedures easier, faster and less expensive for customers seeking to add rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, while continuing to ensure safe and reliable service for all customers.
"Hawai'i's utilities lead the nation in percentage of customers who have PV," said Scott Seu, vice president for energy resources and operations. "It's a big contributor to achieving our state's renewable energy goals and we know it's an important option for our customers to help reduce their electric bills.
"At the same time, as our customers add more solar systems, circuits on all islands are reaching the level of PV that requires added care to maintain safety and reliability for all customers. But with additional studies and more experience, we are making changes to minimize the times when an interconnection study may be needed and making it as easy as possible for customers in cases when a study is needed."
The Hawaiian Electric Companies are changing the threshold so more small systems (10 kW and under) can be added without a potentially costly and time-consuming interconnection study. The new threshold for a possible interconnection study is 100 percent of the daytime minimum circuit load, increased from 75 percent. In addition, Hawaiian Electric is doing a limited number of studies on several representative circuits and will apply the results to as many projects as possible on similar circuits. Previously, each project requiring a study would have to go through its own separate study. This new approach will greatly reduce the number of studies needed and reduce costs to customers.
Maui Electric Company asks customers to contact them before initiating a solar project.
Maui, Molokai, Lana'i customers (or contractors on their behalf) should provide MECO a name, address and proposed PV system size (in kW) by calling 871-8461, ext. 2445.
Depending on how much PV is on the circuit, the utility may perform a supplemental review at the utility's expense to determine if a more extensive study is required. Customers or contractors must still submit and get approval for a completed net metering application to connect to the grid and get the financial benefits of net metering.