Hawaii’s solar industry continued its slump in June due to the removal of a state incentive program.
The building permits issued in June for rooftop solar energy systems was the lowest number of solar building permits issued on Oahu in 15 months, according to data from Marco Mangelsdorf, who tracks rooftop solar permits and is president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar.
The City and County of Honolulu issued 368 photovoltaic permits last month, a decline of 41 percent compared with 632 in the year-earlier period.
Mangelsdorf said the industry is living off of a backlog of solar systems that were approved to be a part of a solar incentive program the state ended in October.
“(It is) kind of amazing that the industry is still doing as well as it is living off of the accumulated fat of a program that was closed down eight-and-a-half months ago,” Mangelsdorf said.
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 that their systems sent into the grid. When ending the program, called net energy metering, PUC Chairman Randy Iwase said it had done its job by connecting 71,000 rooftop-solar systems statewide.
The PUC replaced net energy metering with two programs considered less attractive by the local solar-energy industry.
The state agency said it placed the limit on new solar-energy systems to make room on the grid for other renewable-energy technologies.