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HECO helps PV customers caught in interconnection limbo

  • ALAN YONAN / AYONAN@STARADVERTISER.COMInstalling PV panels in certain neighborhoods requires extra time and expenses to complete
    ALAN YONAN / AYONAN@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Installing PV panels in certain neighborhoods requires extra time and expenses to complete

Hawaiian Electric Co. today announced steps to help hundreds of customers on Oahu who were caught in limbo as a result of changes the utility made in September to its interconnection procedures for solar photovoltaic systems.

As many as 700 HECO customers were in the process of installing PV systems when the utility announced the changes Sept. 6 to address potential safety and reliability concerns due to growing levels of solar energy penetration in some areas on Oahu. The customers, who had not yet submitted the required paperwork under HECO’s net energy metering program, faced delays and possible additional costs as a result of the new procedures.

HECO’s “grandfather” arrangement announced today allows those customers to operate under the procedures in place before Sept. 6.

“We want to be fair and assist customers in high PV areas who made financial or contractual commitments to install a PV system prior to the procedure change,” said Jim Alberts, HECO senior vice president of customer service. “We’re committed to helping our customers move forward with their installations,” he said.

HECO, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association and Hawaii PV Coalition, worked together to define the criteria that will allow customers who committed to PV systems prior to the September changes, according to Alberts. The agreement will allow the customers to interconnect their systems at no additional costs for equipment upgrades and, in most case, without having to wait for a detailed interconnection study, according to HECO.

To qualify for the pre-Sept. 6 treatment the PV systems must meet three criteria:

>> The system must be 10 kilowatts or less in size.

>> Customers must provide to HECO a fully executed and binding contract with a solar company signed on or before Sept. 9 for the purchase or lease of a net energy metered PV system. Customers also have the option of submitting evidence that they made a legally binding financial commitment to a PV system, such as a loan document. (A utility-provided form is available on the HECO website at hawaiianelectric.com/goingsolar.) The documents must be postmarked by Dec. 31, 2013.

>> HECO must have received the customer’s signed net energy metering contract by Oct. 31, 2013.

In addition the PV systems must pass the standard safety review.

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