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Free Solar Technology Seminar on Kauai

Kauai Solar Seminar for the month of July

Free Solar Technology Seminar On Kauai For The Month of July

Join us for a FREE informative presentation about solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems offered every Wednesday at 6:30 located at Haleakala Solar’s showroom at the Kukui Grove Center on Kauai. This educational and informative seminar aims to answer any questions you may have about solar systems – how they function, what net metering is, tax credits, along with current solar trends and issues that are happening in the solar industry today in Hawaii.

This seminar will give you valuable knowledge about solar and we invite you to ask our solar experts questions. Ever wonder how solar systems really work? Wondering how much money you will be able to save? Let us answer all of your questions, without a sales pitch.

Our expert solar energy speaker will give you real facts and answers about solar technology, tax incentives, how solar can pay for itself, and even the hot topic of Schedule Q and where KIUC stands on the issue.

We invite you to join us and learn about solar. For the month of July, Haleakala Solar will be offering this free seminar every Wednesday at 6:30pm. Be sure to come and gain some valuable knowledge about this exciting field.

For more information, please call Haleakala Solar’s Kauai showroom at (808) 246-8866.

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Haleakala Solar At the Great Outdoors & New Product Expo On Oahu

Join us this Father’s Day weekend at the Great Outdoors and New Product Expo at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall on Oahu from June 19 to the 21, 2015. Stop by our booth to say hello and see the latest we have to offer in solar innovation.

the great outdoors expo in honolulu 2015 solar

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PV Internet Reboot Instructions for Enphase Envoy

If Haleakala Solar has installed Enphase Microinverters to maximize your solar energy generation, you get a monthly email with your system’s production report. Some of our customers have received a report showing zero production, but this does NOT mean their system is not producing anything. The vast majority of time it simply means the Internet connection has been lost and the Enphase Envoy® Communications Gateway™ can’t deliver the data to the website. In most cases, this is an easy fix and one you can perform yourself with the instructions below.

Your Envoy / Energy Management Unit (EMU)

Enphase system elements
Your Envoy aka Energy Management Unit (EMU) collects energy and performance data from the microinverters that are connected to the PV modules. The Envoy then forwards that data to Enlighten, via the Internet, to compile your report. If your Internet connection is down, the production report will show zero.

Enphase Envoy

Look at the front display on your Envoy/EMU.
The screen initially shows 5 pieces of information.
1. Top left is the unique IP web address of the Envoy/EMU unit.
2. Top right is either “+Web” or “–Web”. If +Web it means the Envoy/EMU is communicating through the Internet. If –Web then it means that at that moment it is not communicating.
3. Bottom left is the reading of the total present power production in watts.
4. Bottom center is the reading for total lifetime kilowatt hours reported to this Envoy/EMU unit.
5. Bottom right is the number of microinverters reporting to this Envoy/EMU. There is one microinverter for each PV panel. So this is also the number of panels reporting power production.

Bridges – Important Point To Remember

Enphase Energy bridgeMake sure the dark gray “bridge” connected to your router is always plugged directly into its own electrical outlet and not a power strip. Power strips “clean” the electrical signal and prevent the communication link that is needed to transmit your PV system’s data via the Internet to your Enlighten website. These bridges can be either dark gray colored and say “Enphase Energy” on the top or white Tenda or Netgear brands. You have 2 bridges that are about 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall. The bridge near the Envoy/EMU will be plugged into the electrical outlet within the same box containing the Envoy/EMU. The bridge inside your house is the one to remember to keep plugged directly into the wall outlet, even if you later remodel or reorganize your computer cords. The bridge will have an Ethernet cable connecting it to your router – preferably at the port closest to where the modem cable comes into the router.

Troubleshooting

What to do if your Envoy/EMU stops reporting data to your Enlighten website:

  • If you check your Enlighten website and it doesn’t show any current PV power data, then generally you’ve lost the Internet connection and it needs to be reset.
  • First, check the display on your Envoy/EMU.
  • If the upper right shows “-Web” then it confirms that the unit is not communicating over the Internet. If there are numbers on the bottom left, and center, and the bottom right number matches the number of PV panels you have, then it is simply a matter of restoring the Internet connection.

Restoring Your EMU’s Internet Connection

There are 5 Pieces of Equipment to Unplug and Re-boot. Unplug the power from all 5 devices first and then begin re-booting with the following steps:

  • Modem: This will be somewhere near your computer. Plug it back in and wait 60 seconds before proceeding to the next step.
  • Router: This will also be near your computer. Unplugging both the Internet cord and the power cord is best. Plug it back in and wait 60 seconds before proceeding to the next step.
  • Inside Bridge: Plug it back in and wait 60 seconds before proceeding to the next step.
  • Outside Bridge: Located in the EMU metal box on the outside of house. Plug it back in and wait 60 seconds before proceeding to the next step.
  • Envoy/EMU: The EMU box is labeled and located on the outside of your house as described above. When you plug it back in it will begin its cycle with “INITIALIZING.” This normally takes about 5 minutes to reboot itself and start scanning for inverters. It can take up to 20 minutes to complete the process and reconnect to the Internet. If it comes back up with “+Web” then check to make sure the number on the bottom right matches the number of PV panels you have. If it does, then you’re done as everything has been reset back to normal and the data will soon be available online again.

Whenever the Envoy/EMU has been offline and then is brought back online, the system will first catch up with oldest data and once caught up will display current data, so expect some time (24-48 hours) before the output on the computer matches what you expect to see. The microinverters send information every 5 minutes to the Envoy/EMU, and the Envoy/EMU sends data to your website via the Internet every 15 minutes. The data can be stored for several weeks before it reaches its memory limit. So all the old data needs to get caught up before it is current when viewed online. But you can be confident that the Envoy/EMU unit is tracking and monitoring your panels and the information will be available for you to view online.

If you would like assistance with this process, please don’t hesitate to contact the Service Department on your island.

Oahu – (808) 523-3305
Maui – (808) 871-8654
Kauai – (808) 246-8866

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2 Weeks Left To Enter Haleakala Solar’s Employee Photo Contest

We are two weeks into the Haleakala Solar Employee Photo Contest with TWO WEEKS LEFT TO GO! Be sure to enter soon for your chance to win BIG CASH PRIZES.

In first place so far….
DAVID RAMOS from Oahu with a whopping 223 “Likes”.
Photo by David Ramos - East Oahu - Haleakala Solar's Finest

In 2nd place so far….
SAM ESEKIA from Oahu with 81 “Likes”.
Photo by Sam Esekia from Oahu

In 3rd place so far….
RYAN GRASA from Maui with 51 “Likes”.
Photo by Ryan Grasa from Maui

In 4th place so far….
DARRYL WINSLOW from Maui with 23 “Likes”.
Photo by Darryl Wonslow from Maui

In 5th place so far….
SAM ESEKIA (again) from Oahu with 21 “Likes”.
Sam Esekia Photo 2 from Oahu

So many great submissions! Let’s keep them coming in and have your friends and family ‘Like’ their favorites in the next two weeks. In two weeks, on June 18th, the contest ends at Midnight. Hurry and submit your photos and/or come and vote for YOUR favorite before time runs out!

photo contest poster

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Maui County Looks Into Alternative Utility Ownership

In anticipation of NextEra Energy’s merger with Hawaiian Electric Industries, Maui County is looking into different options of electricity utility ownership to determine which model would provide the best support for Maui County’s transition into 100% renewable energy smart grids and microgrids. The Request for Proposals (RFP), posted by Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Office of Economic Development on May 5, provides a $30,000 budget and four-month deadline for an analysis which would need to include the following:

  • Preliminary appraisals of how much it would cost to purchase the electric utility in its entirety and in certain parts
  • Benefits of a public power utility and an energy cooperative form of ownership as alternative utility business models
  • A recommendation of the utility structure(s) and ownership option(s) that would best align with Maui’s renewable energy future

“We must look at our options, but to do that and have a constructive conversation about the matter we need more information,” Arakawa said. “This study will provide us that information, and will tell us if it would be best to start our own utility, form a co-op as Kauai did, allow the NextEra deal to go through or some other option. We need to make an informed decision as a community.”

Arakawa and Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho have discussed Kauai’s electric co-op. “We’re open to maybe partnering and sharing some of our processes of hooking up with Kauai as far as extending out to our neighbor islands too,” Carvalho said.

Kauai is the only island that is not part of Hawaiian Electric Industries and has the state’s only electric co-op, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). KIUC purchased Kauai Electric Company in 2002 for $215 million and currently operates over 32,000 electric accounts. As a non-profit organization that is owned and controlled by the people it serves, KIUC has over 23,000 active member-owners and returned $30 million to members as patronage capital and refunds since the co-op was established.

According to the RFP, the proposed sale of Maui Electric Company to NextEra Energy brings about concerns of whether ratepayers will benefit from the change in ownership, if consumer photovoltaic systems and other sources of distributed energy will be suppressed, and whether the proposed sale will support Maui’s desire to be the “electric utility of the future.”

Maui Electric President Sharon Suzuki responded to the RFP saying that she respects the mayor’s decision to examine alternative utility models and issued the following statement:

“As with other utility services like water and sewer services, ownership is only one aspect to consider when dealing with a critical need such as energy for homes, businesses, and public facilities such as medical care centers – lowering costs and providing energy that’s reliable is expected.

Maui Alternative EnergyWe’ve made significant progress and will continue to move forward on our transformation efforts. Currently, 33% of our energy on Maui comes from renewable sources and more than 10% of our customers have rooftop PV systems, far exceeding the national average of less than one percent.

All of our employees at Maui Electric feel a deep commitment and sense of responsibility to serve Maui County’s energy needs. This has not changed in our 90-plus year history and we remain committed to the community we live and work in.”

The deadline to submit proposals is 4 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2015. For more information, call the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development at 270-7710.

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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
Update as of May 6, 2015
House Bill 623, a measure that would require Hawaii to produce 100 percent of the state’s electric power from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and geothermal by 2045, passed the Legislature with a 74-2 vote on Tuesday and is now headed to the governor. The target year of 2045 is a compromise between two earlier versions of the bill, which had set dates of 2040 and then 2050.
“With this bill, we’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100% renewable electricity goal,” said Sen. Mike Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee. “Through this process of transformation Hawaii can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90% dependence on fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.”
Considering that Hawaii already produces about 21 percent of its power from renewable energy, many believed the state could strive for much better than the current goal of 40 percent clean energy by 2040. HB 623 also sets interim goals of 30 percent renewable energy dependence by 2020, 40 percent by 2030, and 70 percent by 2040.
Being the first state in the nation to move towards 100 percent renewable energy will reduce energy bills for Hawaii residents, create jobs in our local renewable energy industry, and be the best choice for not just Hawaii but the entire planet.


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.

——————
*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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