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Tesla Energy Powerwall: Making Battery Storage Affordable

Tesla Energy Powerwall

On April 30, 2015 Tesla Motors, the automaker known for revolutionizing the electric car industry, announced its entrance into the solar battery business with two battery backup products that will be sold under a new product line called Tesla Energy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained that we need to make a “fundamental transformation” in how energy is delivered across the earth. To help us do that, Tesla has developed the Powerwall, a wall-mounted home battery that uses electricity generated from your solar panels to provide power at night, act as battery backup during power outages, and even disconnect completely from the grid if you wish.

The Powerwall comes with a 10-year warranty and will be available in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes that require more power, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery.

Some advantages of Powerwall compared to other battery backup systems currently on the market include its size, style, and cost. Since the Powerwall is measures only 51″ x 33.8″ x 7″ and is made to be wall-mounted, any home has the space to have it installed in their garage or wall of their house instead of needing a designated battery room. The Powerwall is also available in different colors and “looks like a beautiful sculpture on the wall,” according to Musk. In addition, having energy security with the Powerwall won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Tesla’s price is $3,500 for the 10 kilowatt-hour model and $3,000 for the 7 kilowatt-hour version (without the inverter or installation costs).


Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3500 for 10kWh and $3000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late Summer.
Powerwall specs:
· Mounting: Wall Mounted Indoor/Outdoor
· Inverter: Pairs with growing list of inverters
· Energy: 7kWh or 10kWh
· Continuous Power: 2kW
· Peak Power: 3kW
· Round Trip Efficiency: >92%
· Operating Temperature Range: -20C (-4F) to 43C (110F)
· Warranty: 10 years
· Dimensions: H: 1300mm W: 860mm D:180mm


While the Powerwall is constructed for residential use, Tesla created the Powerpack which is “designed to scale infinitely” for business and larger installations of gigawatt class or higher. These batteries could be used to power remote parts of the world, saving places that have no or intermittent electricity from having to build power lines, “similar to what happened with cell phones and landlines where cell phones leapfrogged landlines and there was no need to set them up in remote locations.”

It would take 160 million Powerpacks to get the U.S. off of fossil fuels, 900 million to convert the entire world, and two billion Powerpacks to transition all transportation, electricity generation, and heating to renewable energy. This may seem far-reaching to most, but Musk points out that this is something that has been done before as our world went from no automobiles to two billion cars and trucks on the roads.

“It’s something that we must do and that we can do and that we will do,” Musk said.

Deliveries for the Tesla Powerwall are expected to begin this summer. Stay tuned with Haleakala Solar as we keep track of this exciting new product.

tesla powerwall for home solar battery storageattaches on the wallMusk introduced the Tesla Energy Powerwall system

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HSI CEO Jim Whitcomb Interviewed by New York Times

Jim Whitcomb interviewed by New York Times about Hawaii Solar Industry

In a recent article, The New York Times focused on the current state of the solar industry in Hawaii. Taking note of the plight of many people who want to get solar, but find it very difficult due to delays by Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) for approval of their solar applications, the article revealed to the rest of the country what many people in Hawaii already know, solar energy is a hot commodity that is challenging for some to acquire.

Boasting the highest electrical rates in the country, solar photovoltaic (PV) has been a highly cost-efficient alternative to many homeowners in the state. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, roughly 12 percent of residential homes in Hawaii now have PV systems, the highest in the nation.

Haleakala Solar founder and CEO, Jim Whitcomb, who is often refreshingly blunt in his assessment of the state of affairs of solar in Hawaii was quoted with this perspective, “The lumbering big utilities that are so used to taking three months to study this and then six months to do that — what they don’t understand is that things are moving at the speed of business. Like with digital photography — this is inevitable.”

Whitcomb also makes a couple of appearances in a video produced by the Times that accompanied the article. He explains his advocacy of changing the utility company’s business model from energy generation to energy storage. He explains, “Their jobs becomes, store the energy, manage it, move it where it’s needed. Let the public create generation facilities, thereby benefitting everybody”.

To view the full article article and watch the video go here.

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Hawaii On Track With 100% Renewable Energy Goal

hawaii's goal of 100% green

Hawaii possesses unique challenges and potential when it comes to electricity generation. On one hand, geographic isolation and lack of conventional energy resources make Hawaii the largest consumer of fossil fuels per capita in the U.S. On the other hand, the islands have an ample supply of natural resources including solar, wind, geothermal, and wave power. Recognizing this potential and how much our fossil fuel dependence is costing us, both financially and environmentally, legislature is well on their way to requiring the Aloha State to generate 100 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2050.*

“We are on the leading edge of the 21st century renewable energy transformation,” Chris Lee (D), Sponsor of the House bill, HB 623, and chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee. Lee has been wanting to propose a 100 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for three years, but this is the first year there has been overwhelming support to move forward.

In 2001, Hawaii enacted its current RPS of 70% clean energy by 2030. The state has made significant improvements such as generating a little over 21 percent of our power from renewable sources, a 12 percent increase over the past six years, and installing over 600 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in 2013 alone. The bulk of this 600 MW capacity consisted of wind, biomass and geothermal, so there is a lot of potential to add more solar to the energy mix, especially considering that the Hawaii solar industry has been doubling in size every year for the past five years. At the rate we’re going, having already exceeded our 2015 target of 15 percent renewables, many believe that increasing the goal to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is not only feasible but necessary.

“Even our utility is saying we can hit 65 percent by 2030, so 100 percent is definitely doable,” Sen. Mike Gabbard (D), sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, SB 2181, and chair of Hawaii’s Energy and Environment Committee. “This is huge for our state’s future. Each year, we spend $3 to $5 billion importing fossil fuels to power our economy. Our electricity bills are roughly three times the national average.”

Not only is our electricity and the cost of transporting fuel expensive, but it also creates air pollution and contributes to climate change — a key fact that the Hawaiian islands, with its unique ecosystem and tourism-based economy, cannot afford to ignore.

According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, rising air and ocean temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, and changing ocean chemistry in Hawaii will greatly affect everything from native plants and marine life to food and fresh water supply, infrastructure, and public health. These changes, in turn, impact tourism, especially on islands with more developed infrastructure. The loss of Waikīkī Beach alone would cost the state $2 billion in visitor expenditures annually.

In an op-ed in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, former Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi, real estate developer Christine Camp, and dean of the college of engineering at the University of Hawaii Peter Crouch sum up perhaps the biggest reason why we need to aim for 100 percent renewable energy, “Under the state’s existing renewable energy laws, in 2031—around the time today’s pre-schoolers will graduate high school—the majority of our energy could still come from fossil fuels. We owe it to the kids growing up today, and the ones following them, to do better than that.”

The bills must pass final floor vote by May 5th. Stay tuned as Haleakala Solar keeps you updated on Hawaii’s path to 100 percent renewable energy and other important energy news.

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*Former versions of HB 623 and SB 2181 had set a goal of 100 percent renewable by 2040. The bills have since been amended to aim for 70 percent renewable by 2040 and 100 percent by 2050.

Under the current RPS, our utilities must establish the following percentages of “renewable electrical energy” sales:
– 15% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2015
– 25% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2020
– 40% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2030

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Federal Regulators Approve NextEra-HECO Merger

FERCO approves Nextera Hawaiian Electric Merger

First Step Toward Merger – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Has Approved the Sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to NextEra Energy.

“Approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission represents a significant step toward the completion of our merger,” said Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy. “Through our partnership, we will apply our combined expertise and resources to deliver significant savings and value to Hawaiian Electric customers. We will continue to work closely with our partners at Hawaiian Electric in pursuing the remaining necessary approvals to complete the merger and begin to deliver the more affordable clean energy future we all want for Hawaiʻi.”

Now only two more steps stand in the way of a completed deal: shareholders will vote on the $4.3 billion acquisition on May 12 at 9:30am and the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) must approve the merger.

The deadline for PUC approval is set for the end of August 2015 at the moment, however interveners are arguing that more time is needed to evaluate the merger and asking that the deadline be extended to October 30, which could delay potential completion of the sale until April 15, 2016.

With the highest electric rates in the country, many are concerned that about Hawaii’s energy future. State legislators are currently considering bills designed to increase transparency and require the PUC to ensure that NextEra’s acquisition would still achieve the state’s renewable energy goals and be in the long-term best interest of Hawaii ratepayers.

House Resolution 158 and House Concurrent Resolution 227 were introduced by Rep. Chris Lee of Oahu. “They have a history of opposing competition,” he said. “And what’s more concerning is they have a history of infiltrating politics to get the government to work on their behalf, to benefit the utilities over the people they serve.”

In their written statement, NextEra testified that the resolutions were based on media reports that had either misconstrued or omitted facts. NextEra intends to make “a cleaner, more affordable energy future for Hawaii” and trusts that the PUC does not need bills to be passed to do their job.

Rep. Richard Creagan, D-Naalehu and Kailua-Kona, feels that extra caution is justified, given that residents will feel the affects of this merger for years to come as NextEra can use Hawaii as a testing ground to solve high penetration solar problems before they hit the rest of the nation. “They’re not coming in here to lose money. They’re coming in here to make money,” Creagan said.

In February, Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative (HIEC), a newly formed nonprofit of business and community leaders, filed a motion with the PUC to intervene in the pending HECO purchase to consider whether public utility ownership, similar to Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC), might be a better alternative. HECO filed opposition to HIEC as an intervener, but the Public Utilities Commission decided to allow it.

Marco Mangelsdorf, spokesman and a director of HIEC, said they are not taking a position against the merger but rather want to explore the benefits of local, democratic ownership and control of electric utilities.

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Good News For Solar Customers Put On Hold By HECO

Hawaiian Electric Drops Solar Freeze in Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric (HECO), which has been delaying approvals for customers waiting for solar system approvals, has reached an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission to open up the grid. The agreement means that HECO cannot delay nor deny applications unless there’s a serious safety issue.

Randy Iwase, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission stated, “They’re supposed to take care of you, if you’re in line. They told us that in a letter back in October of last year that those in the que will be taken care of, will be connected.” During the negotiations, Iwase reminded HECO that it needed to keep its customers “best interest” in mind.

In a filing a month ago, HECO admitted that it’s now safe to increase solar capacity to as much as 250-percent. For months HECO claimed it would not be able to accommodate new solar systems into the grid due to “circuit saturation” and safety issues. This new statement gave a glimmer of hope to customers who had been put on hold, some for over a year, waiting for their systems to be approved by HECO before they could move forward with installation.

Four points were agreed upon. One of them is the PUC isn’t going to respond to a motion put forth by HECO a few weeks ago asking the commission to approve a lower buy back rate, the price HECO pays to purchase electric back from its customers. The utility giant said they would approve all those on the waiting list for solar projects if they got approval for the lower buy back rate (called Schedule Q). It was during this time they admitted the safety of adding up to 250-percent more capacity to the grid.

The agreement between the PUC and HECO means that HECO cannot delay nor deny applications unless there’s a serious safety issue. “If HECO can establish that they have reliability, technical or safety factors, such as you’re going to over-saturate the grid, yes they could deny because there are issues of safety there,” said Iwase. If HECO cannot prove there are safety issues, as stated in this new agreement, the project cannot be delayed.

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President Obama Pushes To Extend Solar Tax Credits

obama solar tax credits 2016Earlier this month, President Barack Obama released his 2016 budget proposal, which includes a 7% increase in clean energy funding along with $4 billion allotted to encourage states to accelerate their carbon reduction plans.

“Our nation thrives when we are leading the world with cutting-edge technology in manufacturing, infrastructure, clean energy, and other growing fields,” said President Obama in his budget message.

Obama’s proposed budget, which still must be approved by Congress, involves extending the solar tax credits on the federal level which benefits the solar industry and other clean energy industries.

$4 Billion for States to Increase Emission Cuts

The administration is finalizing guidelines that would cut down carbon dioxide emissions from power plants nationwide. The new fund would be available to any state that is trying to lower their emissions faster or more than the government mandates. States could use the capital to finance clean energy technologies, create incentives for businesses to increase their energy efficiency, and improve low-income communities that face “disproportionate impacts” from the affects of climate change and environmental pollution. Hawaii already has our Clean Energy Initiative of 70% clean energy by 2030 in place, so we are most likely ahead of the curve.

45% Proposed Increase in Solar Funding

The budget proposal requests an overall total of $336.7 million for the federal government’s solar energy technologies program within the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This $336.7 for the solar program would include $62 million for photovoltaic R&D, $67.3 million for balance-of-systems cost reduction, and $48.4 million for concentrating solar power.

The Department of Energy requested $29.9 billion, $2.5 billion more than the amount enacted for 2015, to focus on making the electric grid more resilient and reducing methane emissions from natural gas systems.

Permanent Wind and Solar Tax Credits

Obama’s budget, which still must be approved by Congress, also calls for the permanent extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar energy and Production Tax Credit (PTC) used by the wind industry. The ITC, which was introduced in 2006, enables solar developers to write off up to 30% of the development costs of solar projects once projects come into service. Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), credited the ITC for helping the solar industry boost U.S. solar capacity from 680 MW to 13 GW, offset over 20 million metric tons of damaging carbon emissions into the air every year, and increase employment by more than 85 percent over the past four years. Under the current plan, the ITC is scheduled to drop from 30% to 10% at the end of 2016.

Hawaii Solar Tax Credit for PV Battery Backup

While Obama is trying to extend the solar tax credit on the federal level, Hawaii is considering a bill that would give a tax break especially for PV battery backup systems, since currently battery systems qualify for tax credits only when installed with PV systems. H.B. 212, which was introduced by Rep. Scott Nishimoto of the Hawai‘i State Legislature, establishes a nonrefundable income tax credit for “equal to twenty-five per cent of the actual cost of each battery backup system installed or the cap amount determined in subsection (b), whichever is less,” according to the bill. As of February 12, 2015, the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee unanimously recommended the measure be passed with amendments.

We certainly live in a historic time for energy and solar power. At Haleakala Solar, we are excited to see what the future holds for PV and look forward to sharing important solar news with you. If you’re interested in staying updated, please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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HECO Net Metering Plan Summary for Solar PV Customers

On Tuesday, January 21st 2015, The Hawaiian Electric Companies’ filed Docket No. 2014-0192 in a motion for approval of NEM program modification and establishment of a transitional distributed generation program tariff (TDG). If approved by the Public Utility Commission, the customers of HECO, MECO and HELCO will see significant changes in world of distributed generation, DG (roof-top photovoltaics).

There are pros and cons to the suggested motion depending on which side of the fence you stand. In the long run it will provide both the Utility and Consumer an avenue to grow. The allotted PV circuit space will increase from 120% to 250% of Gross Daytime Minimum Load (GDML). However, with the increase in circuit penetration comes the drawback of reduced return on investment (ROI).

SAFETY:
Based on the results of technical inverter testing, it was found the grid can take many more times the current level of Distributed Generation (DG). In the past the Utilities have been reluctant to allow their customers the benefit of roof-top solar touting the extreme safety concerns they had with any increase DG. Although there were no recorded instances of toasters catching fire due to inadvertent transient over voltage conditions, MECO, HECO an HELCO stood united in their sizing constraints and lectured about the possibilities of danger.

Now that the testing has been concluded, Hawaiian Electric is happy to announce they will clear the queues for those who have been waiting for PV and allow them the benefits of solar… ONLY if the PUC approves the modifications to the program. That’s right, although it has now been deemed safe, it is only safe if there are shared cost benefits to the utility. Without the PUC’s approval, the existing sizing constraints will remain in place.

RATE:
Under the proposed plan a new accounting practice will be implemented. Currently, for every kW sent to the Utility, full price is paid and credited to the customer’s account. Under the new plan, customers will roughly receive half of what they receive today. It’s a little more complicated as the credit applied is equal to the Base Fuel Energy Charge plus the Energy Cost Adjustment but when it all shakes out, if MECO’s rate is now $0.38/kWh the customer would receive roughly $0.19/kWh from the utility. For Oahu, HECO’s rate is now $0.36/kWh so the HECO customer’s would receive roughly $0.18/kWh from the utility. These rates fluctuate with the price of oil.

All current NEM customers will be grandfathered and remain NEM customers until changes to the account occur. Which means, if an existing NEM customer were to sell their home and change the account holder, the new account holder would be switched to the Schedule Q program.

ROI:
Hawaiian Electric expects system sizing to decrease. The ROI pencils out higher for systems sized only for daytime usage when power is instantaneously used by the loads in your house. Power goes where it is needed the most so if your refrigerator is running, power from your PV system travels straight to the refrigerator before ever checking into the utility. Therefore, the customer realizes gain from the full production of the system instead of getting halved by the utility.

Customers with Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and Leases will need to be very aware of their situations. Under the new program, these agreements do not pencil out for the 100% offset of their utility bill unless the price of oil sky rockets increasing the Base Fuel Energy Charge.

For customers wishing to have maximum savings (zero out usage) on their utility bill, system sizes will need to be increased by 50% to 70% depending on their current lifestyle. Knowing when power is consumed is crucial in proper sizing of the system. Once this motion is passed, night time usage should be doubled when calculating system size as the utility takes half. This doubling of night time load increases system size and expense therefore decreasing the Return on Investment.

ROI under the Current NEM agreement ranges from two to four years. ROI under the proposed Schedule Q will remain the same for those purchasing PV for only daytime usage but will increase to five to seven years for those wishing to mitigate 100% of their utility consumption.

TIMING:
Hawaiian Electric has given a 60 day deadline to the PUC. We anticipate a conclusion sometime around March 21st. For those customers interested in roof-top PV under the existing NEM program, it is suggested they submit their NEM applications as soon as possible. Hawaiian Electric will honor all submitted NEM applications prior to the passed motion. Once the motion is passed, all new applications will be filed for Schedule Q.

Hawaiian Electric Net Metering Plan Pros and Cons

For more information, Solar Consultants may be reached at (808)643-8000 toll-free throught the state of Hawaii.

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EV Charging Stations JumpStart Maui

As part of the growing network of EV charging stations being deployed by Hitachi’s JumpSmart Maui initiative Haleakala Solar has recently completed the installation of residential charging stations and is under contract to construct a number of new charging station projects in 2015.

Under contract to Hitachi, Haleakala Solar, Inc has announced the completion of construction and commissioning for the new Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station located at the County of Maui building in Wailuku. The EV charging station owned by Hitachi under a lease agreement with the County and is comprised of one (1) level-2 station and two (2) Level-3 charging stations. Construction was completed on November 17, 2014.

The commissioning of the County charging station project was followed by a dedication and blessing performed at the project site on Wednesday December 17, 2014. The event was attended by Hitachi corporate representatives and executive, County of Maui officials including Mayor Arakawa and members of the Maui Economic Development Board.

Haleakala Solar poses with Mayor Arakawa for JumpStart Maui

Haleakala Solar Energy Conservation team members pose for a photo with Mayor Arakawa at the JumpSmart Maui EV charging station blessing ceremony. From left to right, Pete Papa, Jim Laehy, Mayor Arakawa, Keoni Hoopii.

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Renewable Energy Storage System – Energizr

JLM Energy - Energizr Battery Backup

When you’re ready to take your energy independence to the next level, Haleakala Solar has a couple solutions based on your needs. The most space-efficient option is the JLM Energy Energizr™, a residential energy storage and management system that stores solar power generated during the day to provide electricity at night or in cloudy conditions. The system even combines with a generator to provide constant energy access during a power outage.

Energizr Renewable Energy Storage System

Energizr™ has four different modes of operation:

  • Grid-based with battery backup
  • Off-grid using renewable energy sources
  • Integrated grid, renewable, and battery backup
  • Immediate battery backup

Visit JLM Energy’s website for further information about these modes of operation.

The battery storage system is only 93″ tall x 16″ wide x 9″ deep. It uses lithium iron phosphate batteries and has storage capacity options of 2.1 – 7.8 kWh. A single unit is able to meet the energy requirements of a well-designed 1,500 to 2,500 square foot home. For larger homes, more than one unit can be installed.

Top reasons to consider Energizr™:

  1. Never ever have to worry about your power going out
  2. Gain energy independence so you no longer have to worry about changes made by the utility company
  3. For our customers who still want to remain connected to the grid: When the meter runs backwards, instead of all of your solar energy getting pumped back into the grid for everyone to use, some can be saved for when YOU need it later, which gives you the power (literally and figuratively) to avoid on-peak charges

Are you thinking taking the next step towards energy independence? Contact Haleakala Solar for more information. You can also stop in to our Maui Mall location (near Baskin Robbins) to see the Energizr™ in person.

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Rebate For Solar Hot Water Tune-Up

Modern, high-quality solar hot water systems typically require very little maintenance. However, getting a tune-up from Haleakala Solar, an insured, licensed contractor, every 3-5 years will ensure your solar hot water heater is running at optimum efficiency for as long as possible.

Here’s the great news:
Hawaii Energy is offering a special limited-time rebate for a solar water heater tune-up. If you have a solar hot water heating system that is at least 3 years old located in Honolulu, Maui, or Hawaii counties, you qualify for a $150 instant rebate off of a tune-up! This offer is valid until May 31, 2015 or while funding lasts and is only available through a Hawaii Energy Participating Contractor, like Haleakala Solar.

The tune-up will include a list of maintenance services based on whether your solar hot water system is active or passive.

solar hot water checklist

Once your maintenance tune-up has been completed, Haleakala Solar will provide you with the rebate application for you to complete and sign. We will submit your rebate application for reimbursement. Your rebate from Hawaii Energy is instant as it is discounted from your out-of-pocket cost.

To schedule your solar hot water tune-up appointment, please call us at:
Statewide Toll-Free: (808) 643-8000

This limited-time rebate is being issued on a first-come, first-serve basis, so don’t put off making this phone call!

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