HSEA December Monthly Report

Posted on Monday, December 12, 2016


Hajime Alabanza

(808) 232-8371


NEWS Release


December 12, 2016

Industry Rating Upgraded, Solar Industry is Here to Stay

The solar industry outlook for December has been upgraded to OVERCAST. Hawaii’s solar industry has been in steady decline since the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission ended the Net Energy Metering program and replaced it with the Customer Grid-Supply and Customer Self-Supply programs. However, the industry is showing signs of a modest rebound. Hawaii consumers are showing interest in new and exciting types of solar systems that include energy storage.

More than a year after NEM was eliminated, data shows that the Customer Self-Supply program is beginning to slowly gain traction. The CSS queue data reveals more than double its installation approvals since last month. However, difficulties still exist on both building and utility permitting. In lieu of submitting CSS applications, several companies have supplemented their business by installing off-grid systems. The solar industry’s efforts to work with the utility to design and install approved non-parallel energy storage systems are beginning to bear fruit. Hawaii residents now have even more options to help the state reach its ambitious energy goals.

In light of this demand for solar, it is important to continue on with the regulatory process. On October 3rd, the PUC announced the beginning of Phase 2 of the DER docket (2014-0192), which promises a new era of more stable and consistent renewable energy policy. Hopefully, the turmoil over the policy decisions of last year will translate into best practices and lessons learned to provide a smooth transition into a new DER policy. The HSEA looks forward to continuing to work with the various stakeholder agencies on these important issues.

Unfortunately, the solar industry’s decline has resulted in a significant opportunity cost. Since 2006, the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) has added between $350,000,000 and $600,000,000 to the state economy. It is imperative to develop policies that will allow us to attract federal subsidies for renewable energy and keep those dollars local. Declining solar costs, new technologies, faster and safer installation practices, and increasing consumer interest will drive greater ITC claims, which, in turn, fuels the local economy. Alternatively, poor policy decisions and stakeholder deadlock will reduce solar business resulting in a loss of federal dollars.  

“While there have been modest improvements in the new solar rooftop programs, there are still a myriad of challenges that must be addressed in DER Phase 2,” said Hajime Alabanza, Executive Assistant to HSEA. “Technological improvements and innovation will make solar and other distributed energy resources more affordable, offer greater choices to households, and, ultimately, be an integral component of our state’s 100% renewable energy goal.”

  • Photovoltaic Permits: comparing November 2015 to November 2016: pulled permits are down 32.4%.

Solar contractors pull permits when they anticipate developing a project in the near future. The number of building permit applications in November 2016 are down 32.4% from November 2015.


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.

The Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) issues its December report assessing the strength of Hawaii's solar energy industry. A rating, SUNNY, OVERCAST, CLOUDY, or STORMY is issued each month based on solar sales, jobs, and installations data. Pro or anti-solar policy, regulation, and legislation will also factor into the monthly rating.

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