Oahu solar permits dropped 54% in July, lowest in 18 months
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Oahu solar permits dropped 54% in July, lowest in 18 months

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / 2015

    Joshua Puno, an electrical apprentice, is secured by harness to a “hitch clip” at all times while installing solar panels on the roof of a home in Kailua.

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The number of photovoltaic building permits issued in July by the city was the fewest in the last 18 months.

The City and County of Honolulu issued 336 PV permits last month, a decline of 54 percent from 738 in July 2015, according to data from Marco Mangelsdorf, who tracks rooftop solar permits and is president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar.

Year to date, the number of solar permits issued was down 27 percent from the same period last year. There were 2,946 PV permits issued from January to the end of July, compared to 4,053 issued during those seven months last year.

Mangelsdorf said the number of permits issued in 2016 will likely be half of what was issued in 2015.

The decline is largely attributed to the state discontinuing a solar incentive program last fall.

In October, the state Public Utilities Commission ended a popular incentive program that offered owners of solar-energy systems a credit equal to the retail rate for the excess energy their systems sent into the grid. The so-called net energy metering program resulted in many solar system owners lowering their electric bill to approximately $17 a month.

The PUC replaced the former program with two less attractive options. When ending the program, PUC Chairman Randy Iwase said it was fully subscribed and he wanted to save space on the grid for other renewable energy options such as community solar.

Only one of the two programs, called grid-supply, allows customers to continue exporting excess energy into the grid. Grid-supply credits new solar owners 15 cents a kilowatt-hour for the extra energy their solar systems send into the grid, roughly 8 cents less than the retail rate that had been offered through the net energy metering program. The PUC also put a limit on the total amount of energy generated from the grid-supply program statewide. Oahu’s limit is 25 megawatts, and Hawaii island’s limit is 5 megawatts. Maui County’s limit is 5 megawatts. Maui has reached the limit. Oahu and Hawaii islands are expected to reach it soon.

The other option, self-supply, encourages the use of solar-plus-battery systems because participants in the program are not allowed to send excess solar energy into the grid.

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  • The non-PV people are crying that the PV people are getting a free ride off of them. The PV people paid for their systems or went into the more affordable lease systems. Remember that everyone had an equal chance at this and also the PV systems are providing clean power to the system that everyone gets to use.

  • Hogwash. I’m still waiting for mr solar to be approved under the NEM. They say they have to do a SR. Meanwhile, HECO is approving CGS in months, not years on the same line. Kai-Harding. More bs.

  • There is electrical technology available to constantly monitor power lines to ensure there are no over or under voltage issues.

    Willing to bet this technology could be modified to control each micro inverter on a PV panel, turning it on and off to match the homes power needs. This would ensure excess power does not go into the grid, yet allow a home owner to install PV without effecting HECO’s Jurassic and weak power grid.

    Once this comes to market watch PV installation explode. Power company can’t say the grid is over saturated. Hmmmm or the power companies are paying to keep this technology off the market. Hmmmm

  • The sad fact is yes our grid and the power supply system is ancient but to get it fully updated would take an enormous amount of money not even shareholders investment could fund. Most people wouldn’t believe that HECO has actually poured millions into upgrading their systems where we can now enjoy over 300 megawatts of PV on the system today which was unthinkable just several years ago. Remember that HECO is running power plants today that are as old as from the late 40’s and 50’s. The system was never designed to accommodate PV but here it is today doing just that. Ask anyone in the industry and they’ll tell you it is simply astonishing with what they’ve accomplished. Though even with all the upgrades system limitations eventually will be met and we’re near that point. Of course there are solutions now but they’re extremely costly. We’re talking billions of dollars. And everyone demands it but nobody is willing to pay for it. Then you always have the environmentalists demands which drive costs into the atmosphere. The only thing that this cholo sees that can help solve our problem is a new technology breakthrough that has yet to happen. And this cholo believes it will be some sort of game-changing energy storage system affordable enough that everyone can get on board. When that happens is anybody’s guess. And no, the battery storage systems that exist today are not it.

  • Hawaii Electric would like to kill rooftop solar. They see their demise and they are not happy. They are okay with solar, as long as they are supplying it and we are paying.

    Maybe we should cite eminent domain and take over the electric company. (Or, we can just show them and get Elon Musk’s PowerWall.)

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