POSTED: 6:01 p.m. HST, Nov 29, 2011
The Public Utilities Commission today issued revised rules designed to make it easier for individuals and businesses with solar photovoltaic systems to connect to electrical distribution systems operated by Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries.
The revisions to the PUC’s Rule 14H are an attempt to address a situation in which some photovoltaic projects were having to be scrapped because they were proposed for neighborhoods where PV penetration was already at high levels.
HECO, along with Maui Electric Co. and Hawaiian Electric Light Co., had set a 15 percent threshold for the amount of solar power that could be put on a single circuit during peak load. Individuals and businesses seeking to install PV systems that would breach the 15 percent threshold were required to conduct a costly interconnection requirement study (IRS) before they could proceed.
Among the changes approved by the PUC was a new “streamlined supplemental review” mechanism so an individual or business will no longer automatically have to conduct an IRS if the project exceeds the 15 percent threshold. Supplemental reviews would be conducted by the utility at no charge and would be completed within 20 business days.
The PUC also established time limits for the completion of certain major steps in the interconnection process.
“The commission appreciated the willingness of the HECO companies to work diligently with the other parties to implement a flexible and certain process for the interconnection of small renewable energy projects on its distribution systems,” said John Cole, one of three commissioners on the PUC.