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PUC ends current solar credit program, adds new options


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The state Public Utilities Commission cut the credit amount that new rooftop solar owners on Oahu will receive for the excess energy their photovoltaic systems send to the grid. 

New Hawaiian Electric Co. solar customers choosing to use a "grid-supply" program will be credited 15.07 cents per kilowatt-hour for excess energy they send to the grid on their monthly bills compared to the net energy metering (NEM) program currently in place offering the 26.8 cents per kilowatt-hour full retail rate. Through the "grid-supply" program, new customers still will receive full retail credit for the energy their system produces when it is used to cover their home energy use. 

In an order today, the state PUC ended the current NEM program. All current NEM customers and applications in the queue as of Monday are grandfathered in to the program, which credited solar owners the full retail rate on Oahu in September. 

"(NEM) is fully subscribed," PUC Chair Randy Iwase said. "It did its job, which was to incentivize PV on roofs. There is an evolution here in what we are going to be doing." 

The evolution includes three new options: Self-supply, grid-supply and time-of-use. 

Under the self-supply option, customers will not export energy to the grid. Energy storage systems, such as batteries, will consume all of the energy produced by their solar system. The PUC ordered that self-supply systems would be approved under an expedited review by HECO. Self-supply customers would receive the full retail rate. 

The grid-supply option would allow customers to export excess energy to the grid as needed and receive energy credits, similar to the NEM program. That new option reduces the credit rate for energy exported to the grid. 

In the order, the PUC also directed the HECO Companies to develop a new, expanded time-of-use tariff that allows customers to save money by shifting energy use to the middle of the day to take advantage of lower-cost solar energy. The PUC said the option is available for any residential customers. 

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