As the nation pushes for a focus on renewable energy, a Hawaiian Electric community solar program is being eyed for expansion. The expansion is the second part of a multi-phase community-based renewable energy project intended to bring more solar energy to the Hawaiian Islands and branch beyond commercial customers.
Currently, the initial phase of Hawaiian Electric’s solar program produces only 8-megawatts. With approvals from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, the power company will be able to move into the second phase. The expansion is expected to increase the output to 235-megawatts of renewable energy generated to its consumers.
Originally, the small production of energy severely limited the number of customers Hawaiian Electric could service. An increase of over 220 megawatts will allow the utility company to expand its service to low- and middle-income residences and help put the focus primarily on solar energy. Hawaiian Electric will also be able to offer its services to subscribers beyond private corporations and businesses.
Upon approval, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission offered recommendations to Hawaiian Electric. Among them was a pay-as-you-go and on-bill repayment plans to help mitigate the cost of large down payments. The commission also suggested financing options to encourage participation.
Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service, Shelee Kimura, spoke about the expansion and the boost it will provide to Hawaii’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also expressed Hawaiian Electric’s excitement in advancing the state’s goals for clean energy.
According to Kimura, Hawaiian Electric still has to work out the logistics of how residential customers can sign up, but advised that they’re “committed to making this program work.” As the power company moves forward with the second phase of the community-based solar program, it will be pursuing requests for proposal process, special rate structures, and technical conferences.