Pacific Business News | Jun 8, 2016
Duane Shimogawa Reporter Pacific Business News
There are 11,493 utility-approved rooftop solar energy systems in Hawaii that remain uninstalled, according to a new report.
The Hawaii Solar Energy Association, in its latest report on the industry released Wednesday, said the outlook for this sector remained cloudy for the third-straight month in May.
A new report says there are 11,493 utility-approved rooftop solar energy systems in Hawaii that remain uninstalled.
Since last month, the number of energized systems has gone up 1 percent, with nearly all of these systems categorized as backlogged net energy metering customers. Data indicates that the industry will see consistent growth in one of the new programs that replaced net energy metering, which was nixed by state regulators in October.
However, unless the 35-megawatt interim cap of the grid-supply program is raised, the industry will have to rely on the other new program, self supply, which, according to the Hawaii solar trade group, has proved to be inadequate thus far.
Total submitted grid-supply applications represent close to 19 megawatts, or 54 percent of the interim cap.
The self-supply option offers the benefit of using photovoltaic devices that convert sunlight into energy to go off the grid, but still allows a limited amount of inadvertent export to the grid, with zero compensation for any export. Since its inception nearly eight months ago, only four self-supply customers have been approved for installation.
The grid-supply option is intended to provide customers with the option of exporting excess energy to the grid in exchange for energy credits against their bills, to the extent such energy export provides benefits to the electric system.
The fall in photovoltaic permit numbers for the second month in a row shows that fewer projects are being built, which is further supported by the decrease in industry employment in recent months.
The Hawaii solar trade group recently asked its members and other companies to provide employment numbers. For the 73 percent of companies that reported a decrease in jobs, employment, on average, fell about 35 percent since October.
“The clouds in our monthly industry forecast keep getting darker, and the damage being done to Hawaii’s local solar industry may be irreversible unless stabilizing policy changes are implemented soon,” Hajime Alabanza, executive assistant to HSEA, said in a statement. “We must not forget the overwhelmingly positive value provided by a local solar industry for our economy, our state energy goals and consumer access to clean power alternatives to dangerous fossil fuels.”