Real or not?
You can sell the power from your solar panels to your local electric company for a profit.
How feed-in tariff works
Feed-in tariff is a program that lets individuals, businesses and governmental entities sell renewable energy to their local electric company at rates set by the government over a period of several years (contracts usually last 15-20 years).
Solar is a popular choice, but FIT also works with several types of renewable energies such as wind, biomass and hydroelectric to name a few.
A solar feed-in tariff system is made up of the same kind of solar panels you’d see on a normal solar system. The difference is that 100% of the power produced feeds directly into the grid, which is measured by a meter attached to the system.
As an owner of an FIT system, you’d receive a check every month from your utility company for the electricity you produce.
How feed-in tariff differs from net metering
Net metering credits your electric meter for any power generated by your panels that is in excess of what your home or business consumes.
Feed-in tariff pays you for all of the power your panels produce, and it’s usually at a better (higher) rate than what’s offered by net metering. The caveat is that you can’t use the power from your feed-in tariff system — you’d either need a second PV system for yourself or you’d have to purchase electricity from your utility company.
Why feed-in tariff is awesome
A feed-in tariff pays regular annuities over a long period of time, which makes them low-risk, high-reward investments. This kind of stability makes it easier for homeowners and businesses to secure financing at lower interest rates.
You can also think of feed-in tariff as a rental property that generates income every month, but without the overhead of finding and managing tenants. And since most system components including panels and inverters come with a 20+ year warranty, you won’t have to worry about potential costly repairs.
Feed-in tariffs ensure you receive fair pricing for renewable energy you produce. A governing body like the Public Utilities Commission determines the price utilities will pay you, which helps you earn back your investment at an acceptable rate of return. A feed-in tariff also helps stabilize the grid by decentralizing power.
Bonus: you can still take advantage of all the federal and state tax incentives with a feed-in tariff system.
How to get feed-in tariff in Hawaii
You’ll first need a sizable space that gets a lot of sun exposure — like a structure with a large roof or a piece of vacant land that’s otherwise unusable.
Then you’ll need to apply to the Hawaii HECO Feed-in Tariff program and enter the “FIT Queue.” You can enter yourself into the queue but it’s strongly recommended you work with an experienced solar contractor to prepare an application on your behalf (the process is complicated and meticulous). You might also want to check out HECO FIT program overview.
Currently, Feed-in Tariff in Hawaii is available on Oahu (HECO), the Big Island (HELCO) and Maui (MECO), with a finite number of applications being accepted.