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Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe Under The Sun

It’s that time of year again… Thanksgiving. And since you are all probably getting ready for a big Thanksgiving feast, we decided to share with you a recipe for the best chocolate cupcakes under the sun. Honestly… they’re the best chocolate cupcakes we’ve ever tasted!

The person making these delicious treats was kind enough to pass along the recipe (after much begging and pleading). This would make a great dessert complement to all the pumpkin treats we normally get for Thanksgiving.

best chocolate cupcake recipe


5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (99% cacao), coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp. safflower oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao) or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Place 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in medium bowl. Bring cream, sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour over chocolate mixture; whisk just until chocolate mixture is melted, smooth and glossy.

2. Cool at room temperature, without stirring, 2 or 3 hours or until spreadable. (Or refrigerate frosting about 45 minutes, without stirring, making sure it doesn’t harden. Let stand at room temperature until of spreadable consistency.)

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour and baking soda in small bowl.

4. Place unsweetened chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in small bowl. Add boiling water, stir until chocolate mixture is melted. Stir in oil.

5. Beat brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl at high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and thick. At low speed, gradually beat in melted chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture in two parts, beating just until blended. Stir in 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Spoon into muffin cups.

6. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely. Spread frosting over cupcakes.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Watch this video of the whole process:

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Haleakala Solar Shares Solar Knowledge With Students

Haleakala Solar shares solar knowledge with students of Hui Malama

The goal of Hui Malama Learning Center’s career / workforce development program is to establish a partnership with employers throughout Maui who are able to share / teach / train our youth in a variety of fields (culinary, construction, farming, etc.). Hui Malama will schedule an initial informational excursion for all students with that employer so that they have the opportunity to learn about that company. After the excursion, Hui Malama staff will chose 1 or 2 students to job shadow with that employer. We stress that this job shadowing opportunity is for skills building purposes even though it might not be our students’ interest at the time.

Haleakala Solar did an excellent job at presenting ALL aspects of not only their expertise in their field, but the reality of respect, humility, punctuality and all the real life decisions that these students will be facing very soon.

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All Watts Are Created Equal, But Not All Systems Are

An article by: Keith Hertz of Haleakala Solar

There is no denying that 1000W = 1kW = 1000W

The same holds true for a typical system size of 6200W = 6200W. So why choose one panel over the other? Haleakala Solar has installed panels from over 20 different panel manufacturers over the last 37 years. With over 12,000 installs you could say we have some experience (more so than any other Hawaiian solar company).

A simple web search of “Top PV Panel Manufacturers” will result in many Top 10 lists. All are relatively different. Some of these lists have repeat offenders but for the most part if you have your eye on a specific panel and you look far enough, chances are you will eventually find it in a Top 10 list somewhere. Once you do, you will have the piece of mind knowing you have selected the right panel… right?

After perusing PV manufacturer site after PV manufacturer site, it becomes apparent that almost every panel manufacturer out there is the #1 panel manufacturer. So what are you to do? Who do you trust? Are more expensive panels better?

Solar PV panels installed for Akaku Maui by Haleakala Solar

Situation Matters

If you have limited space on your roof, consider a panel with higher wattage density. These panels produce more watts in a smaller footprint. You may think this is the way to go with every situation however if cost is an issue, keep in mind higher density panels come with a higher price tag.

Remember, a watt is a watt, so if you need 7500w and have enough space, go for a standard density panel of 250W and use (30) panels. If space is not available consider the same 7500W system using (25) 300W panels. Both systems given the same architecture will produce 7500W. The last scenario might save you an additional 90sqft of roof space but usually cost you a little more because you will be getting the same 7500W but in a smaller footprint.

Panel Manufacturers History Matters

Sure, everyone seems to have a 25 year warranty these days. But what if the manufacturer isn’t around in 10 years? It’s important to choose a panel whose company will be around to service the warranty period. Not all manufacturers have a stellar financial forecast so do some checking and a little predicting.

Some manufacturers have even gone to the extent of offering 3rd Party Insurance good for 25 years just in case they go out business. This insurance gives their customers the peace of mind knowing they will be covered in the unlikely event their panels fail and they are no longer in business. I like these companies.

I subscribe to Homepower Magazine. Every two years they come out with a very comprehensive PV Module Specification spreadsheet. The latest list to come out was in 2012 and it has 53 panel manufacturers with 833 different panels. The list is complete with Model Numbers, Cell Types, STC and PTC ratings, Power Tolerance, Module efficiency, physical size, weight, etc… you get the point. It’s comprehensive.

My background as an Engineer pulls me into these details like a tractor beam. After reviewing the list for over an hour it appears very likely most of these panels would perform very similarly given they were all the same rated wattage. Say I took panels from five different manufacturers with the same rating and placed them on my roof. Would I be able to see a discernable difference in the output wattage in a blind test. The answer is NO. We’ve tried it. We have had eight different panel manufacturers on the same roof plane with the same size micro inverter for over two years. The LG, Sanyo, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Hyaundi, Sharp, SolarWorld and Canadian Solar all look the same when the numbers come in.

If the numbers look the same then how do we as a contractor decide which panel manufacturer to go with? It’s easy. Look at the warranty, salt mist rating and the price. You wouldn’t by a new $30,000 car without a good warranty and service plan so why buy a $30,000 solar system without a good warranty and service plan.

The largest contributing factor to the system efficiency is not the panels. It is the inverter. This is where the bottleneck occurs.

System Design Matters

Over the past 37 years we have come to realize the system design plays the most important roll in performance. By design we mean panel layout and inverter selection or architecture.

You can purchase the most expensive, most efficient panel on the planet but if the system architecture doesn’t share the same efficiencies then you’ve just wasted a whole lot of money.

System Architecture

There are two main system architectures (we have installed thousands of each) the string inverter verses the micro inverter. Once again a quick web search will show you that each technology is superior to the other. We install either depending on the circumstance. Here is a little Pro-Con list we’ve put together.

string inverter vs micro inverter

During the past several years we have moved further away from the string inverter architecture and on to the newer micro-inverter technology. This move is mainly due to system reliability and performance. We run a full service department and warrant our systems, which means we are liable if these systems are under performing.

Since the switch to micro inverters (Enphase), troubleshooting by our Service Department has become very easy and we have fewer and fewer production complaints from customers.

In the past if a customer lost a string inverter, we would receive a call as soon as they realized the sting inverter had failed because that meant the entire system failed. With micro inverters it’s usually Haleakala Solar Service Department informing the customer they need an inverter serviced because the customer didn’t notice the loss in production… at least not an entire catastrophic failure.

We have found upfront costs for the micro inverter architectures to be 5 to 10% more than traditional string inverter architectures. However, the added monitoring capabilities and long term system production have always surpassed the string architecture efficiencies. This then decreases the payback time and increases the return on investment. In recent years the costs associated with micro inverters have come down so this price discrepancy is now becoming smaller and smaller. So… in a nutshell, you either pay a little more upfront for Micro Inverters or get less efficiency in the long term and limited troubleshooting with string inverters.


Each customer is different. Each situation has design criteria that must be met. Very rarely is there a case where one size fits all in construction. My advice to investing in a good solar system is:

  1. Consider the panel placement and determine if higher density panels are required. If not, go with standard panels (1 high density panel watt = 1 standard density panel watt).
  2. Consider a panel manufacturer that will live up to its warranty (some have salt water exclusion clauses you need to be aware of here in Hawaii).
  3. Strongly consider the investment in Micro Inverters given their warranties, waterproof enclosures, system efficiencies and monitoring capabilities.
  4. Choose a solar contractor with a track record… a good track record. According to Forbes magazine 80% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months. The trend is your friend and we’ve already witnessed this struggle with PV Contractors in the Hawaiian Islands (mostly due to utility grid saturation). Your system warranties are only as good as the contractor who installs your system.

In the end, all solar power is good. It’s a never-ending free resource. I think Thomas Edison put it best in 1931. We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy — sun, wind and tide. … I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

Have a Great Sunny Day,

Keith Hertz

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Blessing of PV/Battery System for Maui Home That Goes Completely Off The Utility Grid

Maui is bracing this weekend as Hurricane Ana makes its way through the island chain. Families are stocking up on supplies and tying down loose ends around the house. Many are planning, in the event they lose electricity… stocking up on batteries for flashlights, extra candles and even portable generators. One Maui family, though, isn’t worried about this blackout scenario. Why not? This family is completely energy self-sufficient. They don’t get ANY of their electricity from the utility company. At all. Not a single watt. So if power lines go down and their Wailuku neighborhood loses power, they might not even realize it. Well, until one of neighbors come over to ask if they can run an extension cord, that is.

Jim Whitcomb - CEO of Haleakala Solar

Jim Whitcomb
CEO of Haleakala Solar

On Thursday, October 16th, the Maui family had an official blessing with family, friends and many key members from Haleakala Solar, including founder and CEO, Jim Whitcomb. The blessing was done by Rev. Alika and all were gathered to celebrate the new state of the art PV/Battery system installed by Haleakala Solar. The homeowners waited over a year and still didn’t get approval from the utility company to install a photovoltaic system. After such a long wait, and lots of frustration, they decided to move ahead without MECO’s approval and go ahead and install the solar photovoltaic system along with a state-of-the-art Aquion battery storage system and back-up propane generator. Soon, they will officially be the first home in the state of Hawaii to disconnect from the electric company and run their own fully self-sufficient energy system. MECO is set to come in the next week to remove the electrical meter from their home.

The homeowners remarked, “This has been an exciting project, and we can’t believe it’s finally happening. Everyone that we’ve interacted with in Haleakala Solar has been passionate about what they do, from the employees all the way up to the big guy. And, that says a lot about a company. So, we’d like to thank you, Jim.”

How does this system work? In the simplest terms, electricity is generated with solar rooftop photovoltaic panels. The energy created is then fed into battery units. The batteries provide the electricity for the home. If not enough electricity is generated due to cloudy skies, for example, a back-up generator automatically kicks in and charges the batteries while simultaneously providing the household’s energy needs. Thus, the home is never out of electricity. Even if, say… a hurricane comes along and knocks out electricity to the rest of the island.

Maui Solar Photovoltaic Panels
Solar Photovoltaic and Battery Storage System
Solar Battery Storage Maui
battery terminal
Haleakala Solar Guys

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Project: Kihei Akahi Solar Hot Water

Solar Hot Water Project for Kihei Akahi Complex

The solar hot water project Haleakala Solar installed for the Kihei Akahi condo complex consisted of replacing the existing boiler with new induced draft gas water heaters as well as installing 60 new 4′ x 10′ Sun Earth solar hot water panels with a 3,500 gallon storage tank for EACH of the buildings. So, in total, there were two 3,500 gallon tanks with two new induced draft gas water heaters and 120 total solar hot water collectors installed.

The scope of the project required the use of a large crane. The purpose of the crane was to place each 3,500 gallon storage tank, which weighed 4,938 lbs., into position while avoiding existing trees, a MECO electrical transformer, and the existing building. The tanks needed to be placed perfectly on the concrete slab and footings that were measured and poured precisely to specs. Precision was crucial in getting everything to line up and fit nicely between all of the obstacles. We also used the crane to hoist all of the collectors onto the roof.

This video shows how we installed one of these hefty 4,938 lb. storage tanks using a large crane:

installing akahi hot water solar

solar hot water panels in Kihei Akahi Maui



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Blessing of the New State-of-the-Art Off-Grid Battery System

First Family In Hawaii To Disconnect From The Utility Grid

Kahului, Maui – Haleakala Solar, Inc. announces the blessing of its latest and most advanced, off-grid solar system in the state of Hawaii. The system fulfills the complete expectations and desires of the homeowners to safely and conveniently become independent from the utility company at a cost comparable to grid pricing.

The system is designed to provide 100% of the home owners electricity needs 24/7. In the event the batteries need to be charged, or the homeowner needs more electricity than the solar provides, a propane generator automatically turns on to charge the batteries. The generator is sized to be able to handle 100% of the home’s energy needs and charge the batteries at the same time. The homeowners will never be without electricity even after a hurricane or power blackout. The system is designed to function automatically.

The system utilizes the Aquion battery which is the most advanced battery in the world. The Aquion battery has no hazardous materials in its construction, is maintenance free, and has a useful life of 20 years. These features combine to make battery systems cost effective for any use. The system stores 60 KWH of electricity and has 17.6KW of inverter capacity which is enough to run the entire household electrical load at once. High efficiency PV panels charge the system throughout the day and store energy for nighttime use. Haleakala Solar is the oldest solar company in Hawaii. Since 1977 the company has installed over 11,000 solar systems. The company is a vertically integrated full service organization. The company has a full time service department servicing all of its customers as well as any other solar system that may need repair. The company specializes in PV, solar hot water, solar swimming pool heating, solar air conditioning, energy conservation products, and battery systems. The products are available for both residential and commercial clients.

On Thursday October 16, 2014 at 4:00 p.m., the Reverend Alika from Keawalai Church at Makena Landing will conduct a Hawaiian blessing of the new facilities. The homeowners will be having their electric meter from MECO removed and go 100% off-grid for their electricity soon after the blessing.

View news article from the Maui News:

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Jim Whitcomb Discusses Hawaii Solar Future On Akaku

Hawaii’s Solar Future Is At A Crossroads

Jim Whitcomb deiscusses Hawaii Solar future and HECO energy planAkaku’s TV program, Crossroads, put an important spotlight on the proposed HECO energy plan that the PUC will be deciding on in the near future. The show hoped to motivate the public to express their comments and thoughts about the new energy plan to the PUC, who is accepting public comments until Monday, October 6th. The public will be very much affected by what happens with these new policies and yet a lot of the public don’t even know that anything is being decided right now. So, that’s why this discussion about this topic is so important.

The host of the show, Lucienne DeNaie, sat down with three special guests in the Hawaii energy field, Brad Albert from Rising Sun, Daniel Grantham, Energy Committee Chair of Sierra Club Maui, and Jim Whitcomb from Haleakala Solar, the longest standing solar company in Hawaii.

Special guests on Crossroads TV show discuss Hawaii Solar and HECO

Topics covered in depth were:

• the provision to charge solar system users a higher fee
• the need to upgrade the grid to accommodate more clean renewable energy, and what that takes in terms of funding and infrastructure
• what does solar industry need to survive and thrive?
• were solar industry reps invited to the recent (August) MECO public briefing?
• Is it likely that more solar users will go off grid? What are the factors that would influence that?

Here is a short segment of the show. Jim Whitcomb expresses his thoughts about the HECO energy plan and suggests a good solution.

It was quite an informative program leaving you eager to hear more. All of the guests made excellent comments and gave informed insights, urging the public to email the PUC with their concerns about Hawaii’s solar future. You may view the entire show by visiting this link: Crossroads.

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PUC Requests Public Comments on HECO Energy Plan

Dear neighbors, friends, family, and residents of the Aloha State,

The Hawaii solar industry needs your help! PUC is now accepting comments from the public that will be taken into consideration when they decide about HECO’s new Energy Plan. Not quite sure what to say? Letters to the editor of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser have been rolling in, with the vast majority expressing disappointment and disbelief with HECO’s plan. For your convenience, here are “Letters to the Editor” that ran in the Star-Advertiser in the past few weeks. Shows you how powerful the voices for solar can be together.

Deadline for submitting public comments is this Monday, October 6.

In May, HECO submitted an integrated resource plan that Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) rejected, saying that the utility has a “continuing void in developing a sustainable business model and strategic vision.”

The PUC gave HECO four months to come up a better plan for Hawaii’s energy future. They demanded the utility integrate more renewables, provide easier access to solar, phase out costly power plants, utilize tools such as energy storage and demand response, as well as invest in a modern smart grid that would improve reliability and accommodate greater quantities of clean energy.

In late August 2014, HECO unveiled their new plan and have been quick to point out highlights: reduce residential electric bills by more than 20%, obtain over 65% of the companies’ energy through renewable resources, and nearly triple the amount of rooftop solar to equal over 900 MW by the year 2030. This may sound great on the surface, but many solar supporters are angry and confused over the proposed “improvements.”

For one thing, HECO is planning to charge all customers a monthly fee of $50 to $61 for grid maintenance, while also adding an additional $12 to $16 charge for customers selling solar electricity back into the grid through net metering. To offset the monthly fee, HECO would lower its charge per kilowatt-hour, which would benefit non-solar customers the most. In addition, HECO would reduce the net metering payment from the retail rate of more than $0.30/kWh currently to the wholesale rate of $0.16.

Customers often turn to solar energy to save money, and HECO is taking away these financial incentives. A Big Island homeowner, who invested in solar to use the savings for her kids’ college fund, wrote that she was “disgusted” that Hawaii Electric Light Co. is proposing to charge them more for using less energy. Another customer said the proposal would raise his monthly electric bill by 220%. “Since I have PV that I installed under NEM, and it produces just enough electricity to balance what I use each month and hence pay just the minimum connection charge, I will not benefit from any proposed reduction in retail rates, and HECO wants me to pay an additional charge [per] month to connect to the grid,” the customer said.

HECO also talks about tripling rooftop solar by 2030, but this figure actually represents a significant slowdown compared to historic growth, where Hawaii’s solar industry doubled installations every year from 2008 to 2012.

“Nearly tripling over 16 years is about a 7 percent increase each year. That is very meager compared to the very strong growth we are seeing in the last five years,” said Isaac Moriwake, an attorney at Earthjustice. “It’s far from clear whether 7 percent a year is going to sustain a vibrant solar industry and allow customers to take control of their energy future.”

We agree with the Star-Advertiser who says, “Tell this utility, with its public franchise and highly compensated executives, that this plan doesn’t go far enough in meeting its public responsibility.”

As the PUC is evaluating HECO’s plan, here’s where the good news come in. They want to hear your thoughts on Hawaiian Electric’s proposed changes, and we are humbly asking you to let your voice be heard.

Deadline for submitting public comments is this Monday, October 6.

You can submit your comments in the following ways:
1. Email hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov with the following subject line:
– “Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0192 – DGIP – [Your Name]” if submitting comments on the DGIP
– “Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0183 – PSIPs – [Your Name]” if submitting comments on the PSIPs
2. E-Filing
3. First-class mail to the PUC at 465 S. King Street, Room 103 Honolulu, HI 96813
4. Hand delivery to the PUC during normal business hours of Monday – Friday between 7:45 am – 4:30 pm

Hawaii is leading the way to a clean energy future and we can’t let anyone stand in our way. Thank you for taking the time to tell HECO you deserve better!

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Employee Focus: Q and A with James Aruda

Haleakala Solar Maui Employee Focus James Aruda

Question: What is your full name?
Answer: James Aruda.

Q: Where were you born and raised?
A: I was born here on Maui. 1968.

Q: What is your position at Haleakala Solar?
A: Currently I’m the RME and VP of Operations for Haleakala Solar.

Q: What does RME stand for?
A: RME is Responsible Managing Employee and what that entails is… because I am a licenced contractor in electrical, I can either run my own business or I can sign permits for another company or entity.

Q: So you basically sign off on all the electrical permits for Haleakala?
A: Yes, correct.

Q: How long have you worked at Haleakala Solar?
A: 3 years.

Q: What is your marital status?
A: Been married for 18 years… my wife’s name is Jennie. I have two wonderful kids. My daughter… her name is Jamie Lee and she just turned 13. And I have a son. His name is Jonah and he’s currently 20.

Q: What do you like about working at Haleakala Solar?
A: The awesome thing about working here at Haleakala Solar is Jim, our CEO and owner. Great guy. He’s such a smart businessman and also he’s an innovator. He’s always looking for the newest, latest technology in our industry… trying to be ahead of the competition at all times. He’s a real go-getter when it comes to business.

The staff, the employees, the line employees… really great people. It’s interesting, I’ve worked for other companies and this company is really unique… it’s not only we know each other as co-workers but… it has that family atmosphere. I really enjoy working here and you know what’s neat is when we have new hires come in, everybody seems to feel that camaraderie. Everybody comes in, always says good morning, how’s everything… it’s really neat.

Q: That’s great. You don’t always get that in other companies.
A: Yeah, it’s rare.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: (laughs) Uhh, shoots. (thinks) I like to watch movies. I like action movies… comedies. I like to read and learn. Try new things. Do work on the house and build things.

Q: What kinds of things do you like to read?
A: I read a lot about electrical, mainly… my field. I’m like Jim, self-driven, try to stay ahead as far as technology, what is the latest and greatest on the market. Always trying to improve.

Q: And now for something a little different. If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what kind of music would you bring?
A: Uhhh…wow. (thinks long) You know actually, I like local, Hawaiian music, I would say. I also like Christian music too. Those are the two main ones I would listen to.

Q: What type of food would you bring?
A: Whoo, man… (laughs)

Q: I know it’s hard to bring it down to just one…
A: Yeah, that would be hard… I like a LOT of different…Uhhh. (thinks) Well, I like local food, Hawaiian food. Yeah.

Q: What secret skill or talent do you have that no one knows about?
A: Whooo… what kind of secret talents? Drawing… I love to draw. Yeah, I used to draw all the time… ever since small kid time.

Q: What kinds of things would you draw?
A: Pencil drawing mainly. Anything… cartoon characters… anything. When I was a young kid… I loved it… and I was pretty good at it too. (laughs)

Q: Were you a comic book reader?
A: No, not so much a comic book reader. I used to like to watch the tv shows… Marvel, Superman, Batman… things like that. I loved to draw them. I liked how they were drawn… the way they did the muscles and everything. I thought that was pretty cool.

Q: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
A: Flying (laughs). If you think about it… strength, that would be great, but if you could fly, you could go anywhere.

Super Powers - Haleakala Solar

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Hawaiian Electric Companies Release New Energy Plan To PUC

Back in April, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) 120 days to come up with a comprehensive strategy that would meet customer needs of reduced rates and more access to renewable energy, especially solar photovoltaic systems. (If you want the whole story, read it here.)

HECO has responded with plans to reduce residential electric bills by more than 20%, obtain over 65% of the companies’ energy through renewable resources, and nearly triple the amount of rooftop solar to equal over 900 MW by the year 2030.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hawaii imported 93% of its energy in 2012, resulting in the highest electricity prices in the nation. Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., and its subsidiaries, Hawaii Electric Light Company, Inc and Maui Electric Company, Limited, supplies electricity to approximately 450,000 customers or 95% of Hawaii’s population through its electric utilities.

Hawaii currently uses 18% renewable energy, higher than its 15% by 2015 state goal. HECO’s plans would increase consolidated renewable content of electricity to approximately 67%, surpassing the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 40% by 2030.

Hawaiian Electric recognizes that Distributed Generation (DG) resources, particularly rooftop solar systems, are key to achieving Hawaii’s clean energy objectives. Going forward, HECO is basing their approach to DG on the following principles:

– Policies should lead to a sustainable set of customer options for DG
– The Companies must be proactive in responding to customer demand for DG
– All initiatives must ensure the safety and reliability of the grid for all customers
– Rates governing DG interconnections must fairly reflect the value of the power provided from and to the power grid, and must fairly allocate the fixed costs of the grid to all customers

heco's solar plansHECO wants to create “a clear, open planning process” so both solar companies and customers will know how much solar can be added to the grid every year.

In order to accommodate increased customer demand for rooftop solar, HECO plans to work on modernizing the grid to ensure safe operating conditions and reliable power for all customers. Hawaiian Electric is implementing a smart grid program with applications that help customers monitor and control their energy use as well as provide system operators with accurate energy demand and generation information. The smart grid is already being tested in Oahu but needs to be customized to the needs of each island. Full implementation of the smart grid is expected to be complete on Maui County and the Big Island by the end of 2017 and by the end of 2018 on Oahu.

Energy storage, including batteries, is another important component of the utilities’ business strategy and will “be used to increase grid flexibility, operability, and reliability in a rapidly changing operating environment.”

Energy needs not generated by renewables will be met through liquefied natural gas (LNG), a lower cost alternative to costly oil.

“This plan sets us on a path to a future with more affordable, clean, renewable energy,” said Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “It’s the start of a conversation that all of us – utilities, regulators and other policymakers, the solar industry, customers and other stakeholders – need to be a part of, as we work together to achieve the energy future we all want for Hawaii.”

The PUC will immediately begin an evaluation “to determine the extent in which the HECO Companies’ action plans are consistent with the Commission’s April orders and the State’s energy goals.”

If you want to read the HECO documents for yourself, visit here.

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