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Kokua Line: How do I know whether I have enough solar energy to sell back to Hawaiian Electric?

Question: I’m interested in Hawaiian Electric’s Battery Bonus program but can’t get answers to my question. Under the program, you must allow HECO to siphon off kilowatts from your battery for two hours during the 6-8:30 p.m. time slot for 10 years. Since I need to keep some of the battery power for my own needs, how do I determine how much I can commit to give HECO for 10 years? I’ve emailed them but haven’t gotten a response. I also checked with a solar company, with no luck.

Answer: Hawaiian Electric’s Battery Bonus program will pay residential and commercial customers to add energy storage (a battery) to their rooftop solar energy systems. There’s no minimum or maximum battery power (kW) or capacity size (kWh), “but it is important to have a panel- to-battery ratio that allows the battery to perform its intended function. For example, you need enough onsite solar generation to fill the committed battery capacity amount each day or you may face penalties,” the company’s website states. It says that customers should work with their solar contractors to ensure that their existing or new rooftop system fits the program’s requirements while meeting the customer’s needs.

We followed up with Hawaiian Electric spokeswoman Shannon Tangonan, who emailed this response:

“Solar contractors are just learning this program, so we ask for your patience. Our advice is to work with a good contractor (seek multiple bids if picking a new one) to design a system for generation and storage based on individual needs. Battery Bonus allows customers to use what they need for themselves but obligates customers to export the committed capacity during 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. These systems will automatically export excess energy to the grid for use by other customers, reducing the need for Hawaiian Electric to provide grid-based generation.

“Solar contractors should soon be able to help with this design. And while the commitment is 10 years for the incentive, after Dec. 31, 2023, customers will have the option to transition to an arrangement to be established by the Public Utilities Commission if the new arrangement is more advantageous for them. See hawaiianelectric.com/batterybonus for more information.”

In a follow-up phone call, you said that you already have a rooftop system and were considering adding a battery for this program. You’ll have to circle back to your contractor to answer your specific questions, according to Hawaiian Electric’s response.

Other readers interested in installing rooftop solar for this program asked whether Hawaiian Electric would recommend a suitable contractor. The answer is no; its FAQ states that Hawaiian Electric “cannot recommend a contractor or equipment.”

Those readers can search for solar energy contractors and check ratings at bbb.org. They also can check the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website to see whether a contractor is licensed or has a history of complaints. See cca.hawaii.gov/pvl for more information.

Q: The information about new eviction notices was helpful (808ne.ws/718kline), but the law is still confusing. There should be a form. I own an apartment that I inherited from my parents, and I use the rent for my children’s tuition. I had to take out loans to pay tuition because the tenant stopped paying rent months ago, even though he received a lot of different aid. You can be sure that I will send an eviction notice the moment it is legal to do so.

A: The Mediation Center of the Pacific has since posted a link to eviction notice templates for Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai and the island of Hawaii. The templates for “15-Day Notice for Non-Payment of Rent” can be found at repnakamura.com, a website of state Rep. Nadine K. Nakamura’s. The Kauai Democrat (District 14) chairs the Housing Committee in the state House.

You also can find links to the templates on the Mediation Center’s web page devoted to Act 57, which prioritizes mediation between landlords and tenants. Go to mediatehawaii.org/semp and scroll to the bottom of the page, where you’ll find “Community Resources,” including a link to Nakamura’s website.

Hawaii’s eviction moratorium expires Saturday.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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