End of Grid Supply on Maui

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2016

MEDIA CONTACT:

Hajime Alabanza

(808) 232-8371

hajime.alabanza@hsea.org

NEWS Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 22, 2016

END OF SOLAR PROGRAM ON MAUI

HARMS CONSUMERS, SOLAR INDUSTRY AND STATE ENERGY GOALS

Today, Maui Electric Company took a major step toward shutting down the solar industry on Maui by slamming the door on customer applications under the customer grid-supply tariff. Currently, the grid-supply tariff remains the only functioning and viable option for customers to adopt rooftop solar. Nonetheless, the Hawaiian Electric utilities remain adamantly opposed to reasonable efforts to extend the cap or to create a customer-friendly wait list. 

"The utilities pretend that customers can instead choose the self-supply option, but the utilities’ own reports show that self-supply is not yet a viable replacement," said Hajime Alabanza of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. "It’s disingenuous for the Hawaiian Electric utilities to claim self-supply is a real customer option when they have refused to interconnect a single self-supply system in Hawaii."

More than a month ago, on May 16, 2016, a solar industry coalition including Hawai'i PV Coalition, Hawai'i Solar Energy Association, Sunpower Corporation, and the Alliance for Solar Choice filed a motion with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) asking for the interim cap on grid-supply systems to be raised. The solar industry parties anticipated that the cap could be hit relatively soon. Today’s announcement confirms that forecast. The PUC has yet to rule on that motion. 

"Today’s announcement is a frustrating step backward that needlessly harms thousands of consumers and Maui’s economy" said Brad Albert of the Hawaii PV Coalition. "MECO didn't even try to work this issue out. They refused to discuss it and the result is that real jobs are going to be lost, and Maui customers are forced to continue paying too much for electricity from polluting fossil fuels." 

“We’ll never get to 100% renewable power in Hawaii if monopoly utilities are allowed to block consumer access to solar energy,” said Robert Harris of The Alliance for Solar Choice. “It’s our hope that the PUC will act quickly to raise the grid-supply cap on Maui and throughout the State of Hawaii.”

MECO also raised a red herring argument about applications with increased solar system sizes. Previously, customers could reasonably modify an already-submitted application if they needed to install a smaller or larger system. All Hawaiian Electric utilities stopped this practice, which resulted in customers applying for bigger systems to give themselves more breathing room through the installation process. Further, MECO fails to note that the Hawaiian Electric utilities recently changed how they measure solar system size, which inflated the system size figures and reduced the number of systems that could apply under the grid-supply interim cap.

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Founded in 1977, the Hawaii Solar Energy Association is a Non-Profit organization and is comprised of installers, distributors, manufacturers, auditors, and financiers of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The majority of our member companies are locally owned and operated, making HSEA the leading voice of Hawaii’s solar industry.

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