Hawaii electric utilities were among the nation’s leaders in the amount of solar power installed last year, according to a report released today by an industry trade group.
Hawaiian Electric Co., serving about 300,000 customers on Oahu, ranked third out of 230 utilities surveyed in the amount of solar generation capacity installed per customer. HECO’s 33.16 watts of installed capacity per customer trailed New Jersey’s Public Service Electric & Gas at 35.19 watts and California’s Silicon Valley Power at 39.95 watts, according to the report from the Solar Electric Power Association.
HECO moved up to third in the rankings this year from eighth place last year.
"We congratulate Hawaiian Electric Co. for again proving itself as one of the solar power leaders in the electric utility industry," said Julia Hamm, president and chief executive officer of SEPA. "Hawaiian Electric has developed creative business models and approaches that are appropriate for its environment and that bring the benefits of solar power to its operations, its customer and our society."
There was 10 megawatts of solar generating capacity installed on Oahu in 2010, which came mostly from grid-connected photovoltaic systems installed on rooftops of homes and businesses.
Homeowners and businesses in Hawaii can claim a 35 percent state tax credit and 30 percent federal tax credit for the installation of photovoltaic systems. The state tax credit is among the most generous in the country, topped only by Louisiana’s 50 percent credit, according to an online database run by the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
While Oahu added 10 megawatts of solar in 2010, that was only one-third the generating capacity of the 30-megawatt wind turbine project launched in March in Kahuku.
Oahu earned honors for 2010 solar installations, but Kauai is still the leader for cumulative installations.
The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has the second-largest amount of per-capita solar power installed on a cumulative basis. To date, KIUC customers have put in place 100.7 watts of generating capacity per customer, second to Southern California Edison at 119.1 watts.
Hawaii Electric Light Co., which serves the Big Island, ranked fourth among all utilities with 93.6 watts of installed capacity on a cumulative basis. Maui Electric Co. was fifth on that list with 93.5 watts of installed capacity. HECO ranked ninth with 65.7 watts installed on a cumulative basis.
The SEPA report noted a continuation of the growth trend in solar power outside of California, which has dominated the market for years. About 63 percent of the new solar energy-generating capacity came from outside the Golden State, the highest percentage on record.