Hawaiian Electric Is Getting Ready For First Phase Of Community Solar
In a decision that is expected to bring in a large portion of Hawaii’s population into the green movement, one of the state’s biggest utility companies, Hawaiian Electric has been given the green light by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for its Community Based Renewable Energy (CBRE), popularly known as community solar. The company is preparing to roll out the first phase of the program, while the second phase is planned to open in two years and will include other sources of clean energy.
This is an important move both from the PUC and Hawaiian Electric since Hawaii has always been a pioneer in solar projects, and this program plans to involve those who have never been part of the state’s transition to clean and renewable energy. This mostly includes people who are unable to access distributed solar such as those who are renting, those living in apartment buildings, as well as small business owners.
With a capacity of 8 megawatts of solar energy, the program's first phase will be able to power the areas which are under the service of Hawaii Electric, Hawaii Electric Light, and Maui Electric.
Starting from July 11, the Honolulu-based company will be accepting applications for subscriber organizations from qualified companies and organizations so that a feasible solar project directed as per the guidelines of the program may be proposed. Once subscriber organizations are selected, the customers will be able to subscribe to the community solar. Once you subscribe, regardless of whether you are an individual or a commercial entity, your electric bill will be credited. The amount depends on various factors such as how much money you pay and the project’s energy output.
First proposed back in 2015, the program is aimed to benefit electric customers and simultaneously reduce dependency on fossil fuels for energy generation. Shelee Kimura, the senior VP of Hawaiian Electric said that the main principle in this project is that no one gets left behind in the clean energy movement.
Profitability may be an issue, competitors say
As beneficial as this community solar will be for the environment as well as renters and low-income families, other utility and energy companies are questioning just how profitable it could be for the Honolulu-based Hawaiian Electric. This is because they may have trouble finding subscriber organizations since there are many considerations that have to be kept in mind like availability of land.
The Public Utilities Commission too is not blind to this and has announced that it will adjust the structure of the program accordingly if it has trouble attracting subscriber organizations. However, they hope it does not come to this.
The community's solar program will be overlooked by an independent party which is on the Hawaiian Electric's payroll, but reports to the Public Utilities Commission. This third party will ensure that every rule and regulation of the program is followed and that every process and aspect of the program is fair and square.