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Solar industry continues to dim

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  • STAR-ADVERTISER / OCT. 7, 2015

    Joshua Puno, is secured by harness while installing solar panels on the roof of a home in Kailua.

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.

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  • “The state agency said it placed the limit on new solar-energy systems to make room on the grid for other renewable-energy technologies” – What exactly are these “other” systems and when are they going to come online?

    • Or better to ask, why is the State playing favorites, picking and choosing? Government should be serving the people at large, not special interests.

        • What the heck that means? You don’t think all those solar installers are a special interest group?

      • by making this decision they ARE serving the people as a whole and not just private individuals. they’re making room for more utility-sized renewable projects that will benefit everyone even the have-nots rather than just individuals. so again, they’re doing what you wanted — serving the people.

        • Don’t be naive.PUC policy is dictated by the Democratic leadership, and they in turn are influenced by special interest money.
          The problem for the solar association is that Heco and Nexera have more money than they do.That’s why the PUC will approve the sale, that’s why the PUC ended the net metering program. It’s about money, always has been. If you don’t know by now you should, Hawaii has the best politicians money can buy. The kind that can pass special interest legislation and still count on getting re-elected.

        • Sure but where are these “other renewable-energy technologies”? HECO just recently cancelled two or three larger solar energy farms. Are there other solar energy farms that will be coming online soon? Wind energy seems to be pretty far in the future due to lots of environmental concerns and likely long lead construction times. What other renewable-energy technologies are in the works?

        • sometimes you shouldn’t saywhatyouthink because it just proves you don’t know what you’re talking about. politics has nothing to do with the puc policy that killed nem. if you know how the grid works you already know there is a finite amount of renewable energy that can co-exist on the grid. too much solar generated power equals power outages at night. we’re already at that point. as a matter of fact people should be praising heco for making more room on the grid for solar power by modifying their existing relics they call power plants to operate at lower loads than it was ever intended to. it really is simple as that and no conspiracy theories are necessary no matter how appealing they may be to you.

  • Perfect. There is an ad for Schatz at the top of the page professing to be in favor of “Clean energy for Hawaii and yet where has he been the past few years? Has he taken a side, or even whimpered an opinion regarding HECO’s monopoly, and refusal to be even a willing participant (they obviously are not the leader then should have been)? No, not a word. Actions speak louder than word Mr. Schatz.

    • Schatz has nothing to do with it. HEI’s programs are under the auspices of the State PUC. Blame the PUC. The solar industry is shrinking badly, and it will get worse, as the last of the Net Metering and Customer Grid Supply systems are installed. All that will be available to consumers is the Customer Self Supply system that uses batteries, costs a lot more, and is proving to be very difficult to sell. Some of the larger solar companies have already gone out of business, and others are teetering on the edge.

      • Boo hoo hoo, another clueless guy who spends his life in the dark. Get a solar panel for your head although it’ll probably take about 30 panels to register some energy in your brain. As for HECO’s monopoly, I suggest you read up on what “regulated utility” means and how that came about across the nation.

      • The Solar Companies are getting what they deserve. Relying on costly tax subsidies to make a profit is a very unwise business strategy. After all, there are only so many legislators Solar can bribe by giving them free PV systems. BTW, when the PV cells start failing in the next couple of years, how do homeowners make a warranty claim with a company that KNEW it wouldn’t be around in a couple years ???

  • These people still receive a number of handouts the rest of us are denied, but you take a little away and they pout like little children.

  • We got ours about 6 years ago… Great savings… monthly bill dropped to the minimum… $16… AMAZING Savings. However for the last 5 years, we have been having fewer and fewer sunny days each year. This years months electric bills are sky high compared to those firs two years. Works great when the sun shines… but the last 4 years produce less sunshine the whole year than during the “rainy season” those first 2 years.

    • Are you sure your pv production decreased due to fewer sunny days or is it that your power consumption increased? My pv production stayed about the same but heco is saying my power consumption went way up. I don’t understand how but they claim it did and when I installed more panels they claim my consumption went up more. I think heco is ripping us off with the new meters.

      • I saved just enough to pay for the cost of my system with the tax credits (taking into account the federal tax on the state tax credit). From this point going forward it’s all savings (at today’s rates about $200/month).

  • Sad how elected officials praise green but HECO and others continue to erode measure to truly go green. Sunshine is free so big industry will never support this. I got solar four years ago and my monthly bill went from 400 to 25.

      • and it’s been coming for what, the past 30 years at least. so don’t hold your breath. lithium battery technology isn’t the answer. too big, too expensive, too dangerous among other things yet product life is horrible.

    • Yeah, go ahead and spend BIG bucks so you can get off the grid. Just don’t come crawling back with your tail in your behind when you have to spend more BIG bucks to replace he batteries in ten years. Please, go off the grid asap so we don’t have hear your nonsense anymore. Come on, call the battery installers and tell all of us how great that is.

  • Wonder which is better? To have taken advantage of the State and Federal rebates or to just not buy solar panels and take advantage of the cheaper oil prices?

  • if the grid supply incentive is still available, go for it now! it still is a no-brainer of a deal with the federal and state tax credits.

      • check with heco about the delay. could be heco is waiting for a document or something not yet provided by your pv installer. that’s what happened in cholo’s case and once that was resolved the approval came in soon afterwards. hopefully it’s something simple as that.

  • enough with the cry baby stories about the solar industry. it had a good run but now it has reached its capacity. it wasn’t meant to last forever. basic math skills shows you can’t keep adding more solar generated power to the grid without soon having to sacrifice a baseload unit which are designed to run 24/7. they don’t cycle. you can’t turn them off during the day and start them up at night like a cycling unit. you take out a baseload unit and we’ll be short on power during the night. you’ve already seen what happens when there are unexpected problems with a baseload unit(s). heco ends up calling for energy conservation during the night. who votes for power outages at night so we can have more pv power on the grid during the day? technology and financial limiations says you can’t have it both ways. maybe sometime in the near future. but not now.

  • Solar Energy is one of THE most expensive and inefficient sources of energy. The industry was created and has been supported by incredibly wasteful tax subsidies, both Federal and State. Taxpayers have unwittingly borne the weight of this industry and NOW the industry calls foul ?? Without the unwise tax subsidies, Solar, in the form of PV, would NEVER survived because of the cost of installing and maintaining the systems. Solar Water Heaters remain THE most cost efficient use of the sun and reducing electric bills. If every home in Hawaii had a Solar Water Heater, HECO, wouldn’t have to add capacity. To add insult to injury, does anybody KNOW how to get a disappeared PV company to honor it’s warranty??? Why isn’t the DO NOTHING Governor asking these questions ??

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