The Hawaiian Electric Companies are adding capacity to the Customer Grid-Supply (CGS) program that credits solar customers for the excess electricity they send to the grid. A recent decision by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) created space in the CGS program by transferring it from private rooftop solar systems that were approved in the past several years but never completed.
The CGS program at all three utilities last year reached the capacity caps set by the PUC. To enable more customers to enroll, the companies proposed that space be transferred from approved but long-inactive rooftop projects. Estimates show at least 20 megawatts of CGS capacity is available for customers of the three companies, representing about 2,800 private rooftop solar systems. More than half of that capacity is on Oahu.
Hundreds of CGS applications are already in line for processing. Those applications will be processed in the order received and only as capacity becomes available through Oct. 21, 2017. Customers interested in submitting an application should first review our Going Solar webpage and check the online Locational Value Maps to determine if the circuit serving their neighborhood has room for more solar. If the circuit is saturated, equipment upgrades might be required, potentially adding to the cost and time needed for approval.
To allow for more integration of private solar, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are testing the latest technologies, including advanced inverters that may be used to improve circuit conditions.
Hawaiian Electric advises grid-supply applicants to install a “right-sized” system calculated for their household’s actual energy use rather than an oversized system designed mainly to sell electricity to the grid. Oversized systems cost more and can potentially export more electricity than the homeowner will receive credit for on their electric bill. By using Solar WattPlan, the companies’ online calculator, customers can determine what size system is right for them.
Installing a “right-sized” system helps leave room for future interconnections on the circuit, making space for others.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies lead the nation in the adoption of solar power. Nearly 78,500 customers have had their systems approved or installed on Oahu, Maui County, and Hawaii Island. To date, 16 percent of all customers have PV systems – nearly 20 times the national average.