On Monday, October 12th, 2015, the Public Utilities Commission issued Decision & Order 33258 which ended the net energy metering (NEM) program for new Hawaii solar customers. What does this mean for solar customers?
For existing NEM customers and those who submitted applications postmark dated 10/12/15 or earlier, net-metering guidelines will stay the same.
For all others, there are two current options for home solar, Self-Supply and Grid-Supply:
This option is designed for customers who intend to use all of the electricity produced by their PV systems, and do not need to export excess energy to the grid. Under this policy, limited electricity will be sent back to the grid and no compensation will be given for these exports.
These systems will typically be designed to use energy management and energy storage systems. With these advanced features, these systems will have less impact on the grid and will receive fast-track interconnection review. At this time, there is no cap on the number of Self-Supply systems that may be installed.
This option allows solar customers to export electricity back to the grid and provides compensation at the wholesale rate, which varies on each island.
PV customers on Oahu and Big Island would be credited at approximately 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, customers on Maui would be credited at approximately 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, Molokai at approximately 24 cents per kilowatt-hour, and Lanai at approximately 28 cents per kilowatt-hour.
There is a cap of 5MW (equivalent of about 1,000 single family homes) on the total capacity of Grid-Supply systems in Maui County and the same in Hawaii County. City and County of Honolulu has a new grid supply cap of 25MW.
A Third Option
The PUC has also instructed HECO to create “Time-Of-Use” rates within 90 days, which would allow customers to save money by shifting energy usage to the middle of the day to take advantage of lower-cost solar energy.
In this system, a tariff would also be available to encourage solar customers to invest in home energy storage systems. This would allow solar users to store solar power generated by their PV systems that could then be fed back into the grid during periods of highest demand (5-9pm).
New Expansion to Current Systems
If you’re thinking about expanding your current solar system, two words, BE CAREFUL. New applications to expand existing NEM systems received after 10/12/2015 will probably not be grandfathered in and the expansion of an existing NEM system may void your previous NEM agreement. Before making plans to expand your current PV system, contact Haleakala Solar to get the full facts and make sure you have all the information necessary to make the best choice for you and your family.
Change of Ownership/Utility Account Holder
One of the great news to come out of the new PUC ruling is that NEM customers that have been grandfathered in are allowed to transfer the existing NEM agreement in the event of an ownership transfer, tenant change or account name change. What does this mean? If you sell your home or change tenants, the new owner, tenant or utility bill account holder will still benefit from the old grandfathered NEM program.