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Poll shows most voters oppose charging fee for PV hookup

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:58 a.m. HST, Nov 21, 2013

An overwhelming majority of Hawaii voters oppose charging a fee to utility customers who install solar photovoltaic panels, according to the results of a poll released Wednesday.

The poll, conducted for The Pacific Resource Partnership and the Sierra Club of Hawaii, also found that the support for solar energy in Hawaii is stronger than what other polls have shown for the nation as a whole.

Of those polled 82 percent said they oppose charging utility customers a fee for installing PV panels. Conversely, 13 percent said they supported a fee. The remaining 5 percent said they were undecided.

When the state Legislature reconvenes in January lawmakers may consider an interconnection fee for the owners of PV systems, according to the survey.

The survey also found that 96 percent of those polled said they support getting energy from solar power.

Rep. Chris Lee, (D, Kailua, Lanikai-Waimanalo), said the results of the poll will help lawmakers as they shape legislation in the upcoming session.

"It really dove tails with what weve been hearing in past hearings," Lee said. "When we talk about this issue (solar) in particular you get a sense that people feel it's the only way they can really get a handle on their own electric bill."

Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii, said the rapid growth of solar energy in the state also highlights the need for the electric utilities to make it easier for customers to connect their PV systems to the grid.

If the interconnection issues that currently exist are not resolved some utility customers may chose to go off the grid, which could have unintended consequences, Harris said.

"When we talk about importance of trying to resolve this expeditiously it's because the market is changing so fast that if we don't move now we will be much like Borders or Tower Records wondering what happened and why did things happen so quickly," Harris said.

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Pocho wrote:
Just tack on a dollar or two to all HECO customers and roll out the upgrades in increments. In time it'll be all done.
on November 20,2013 | 05:09PM
Hwa_Tam wrote:
I live in a condo, why should I pay for something I can't use? If you want to hook up to the grid you should pay.
on November 20,2013 | 05:20PM
mikethenovice wrote:
Why do we need a poll to see if people will oppose a fee? I suppose this same crowd would oppose to walking in rain without a umbrella?
on November 20,2013 | 05:15PM
lwandcah wrote:
Where on earth is the PUC in this mess? For HECO to say that they did not anticipate the popularity of PV is a joke, and if they really didn't, then all those in positions that are responsible for this fiasco should lose their jobs. They cannot continue to profess that they are all about renewable energy, and yet not figure that all of us paying the highest rates in the country weren't going to have to consider PV. Why are we bringing the legislature into this? All they will do is add a fee and keep part of it for themselves just like they did with the HI5 tax. The PUC is responsible to look out for our best interest, and needs to get off their rears and do something about it. I would imagine that HECO has reduce some of their overhead having recently taken power plants off line. Maybe we should be asking for a credit.
on November 20,2013 | 06:27PM
niimi wrote:
There should also be a poll asking these same people if they are willing to completely subsidize the hookup of as many PV systems possible for other people, including through higher rates as the pool of non-PV users shrinks yet has to maintain that same infrastructure?
on November 20,2013 | 07:17PM
niimi wrote:
This is like bicyclists asking for all drivers to give up a lane on every major roadway so that <0.5% of the public can have a lane to themselves, and yet they as bicyclists don't have to pay a cent for it because they don't pay any gasoline taxes.
on November 20,2013 | 07:18PM
808ikea wrote:
I'm thinking what will eventually happen is battery storage technology will continue to improve and become safer and affordable. And as HECO makes it increasingly difficult (more expensive) for PV owners to tap into and use the HECO power grid the PV owners will elect to get off the grid entirely. In effect there will be no more subsidizing HECO with the excess power the PV owners feed into HECO's grid and that will mean a smaller base of customers (non-PV owners) for HECO to their pass on cost to.
on November 20,2013 | 08:45PM
pizza wrote:
Any PV issues that HECO customers wish to bring up to HECO are handled anonymously. If you correspond by email they will answer questions, but no one signs the email individually. Same people that doubled my bill from $300 last month to $600... When I called, they said, "Oh, that does seem to be unresonable" "We will send someone out to read the meter again". No new bill- Doesn't this sound like the BWS snafus? ugh...
on November 20,2013 | 10:59PM
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