Hawaiian Electric rolls out new rooftop solar option

Hawaiian Electric Cos. said recently that a new kind of rooftop solar system that enables households to generate their own electricity and to potentially store energy for use after the sun goes down is now being approved by Hawaiian Electric and installed on island homes.

The new systems, believed to be the first of their kind in the U.S., are being installed under Hawaiian Electric’s Customer Self-Supply Program, an alternative to the popular Customer Grid-Supply Program.

The systems are being developed specifically for the Hawaii market and use new inverter technology to provide power to the home but prevent any excess electricity from being exported to the grid. That’s important because, unlike the interconnected power grids on the mainland, there’s a physical limit to the amount of electricity that can be put on island grids at any given moment, Hawaiian Electric said Aug. 2.

A growing number of these self-supply systems, including products sold by SolarCity, Sunrun, Vivint Solar and RevoluSun, now meet the specifications set by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Hawaiian Electric has been working with these companies to develop standard technical specifications that will qualify systems for an expedited approval and potentially faster installation.

Hawaii is now in the midst of a gradual, decades-long program to go 100% renewable by 2045.

The island’s first approved self-supply rooftop system was recently turned on at a home in Honolulu. Sixteen others on O‘ahu have been approved by Hawaiian Electric. Maui Electric has approved seven self-supply systems that are awaiting installation.

“Generating electricity, storing it, and using the energy on-site is the new normal. This product will help make the grid stronger and more reliable,” said Jon Yoshimura, director of policy and electricity markets for SolarCity, which recently installed a self-supply system with batteries at a home in Mānoa.

  

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.