Pacific Business News | Jun 6, 2016
Duane Shimogawa Reporter Pacific Business News
Oahu’s rooftop solar industry continues to cool down, with a 34 percent drop in permits issued in May when compared with the previous month, according to statistics from Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar.
Last month, there were 432 permits issued by the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting, down from 484 in April. There were 654 permits issued in May 2015.
Oahu’s rooftop solar industry continues to cool down. This file photo is of a recent solar installation on the isle.
From January to May, 2,242 permits were issued, down 16 percent from the first five months of 2015.
The solar photovoltaic industry, which at one time was one of the fastest-growing industries in Hawaii, has slowed considerably since state regulators got rid of net energy metering in October.
The industry peaked in October 2102 with 2,433 permits issued but has never reached the 2,000 mark since then. Since December 2013, in which 1,140 permits were issued, the industry has not surpassed 1,000 in any month.
Thus far this year, the industry has not even surpassed the 500 mark.
The top contractors, in terms of permits pulled this year, include Hawaii Energy Connection LLC (326 permits), REC Solar Inc. (342 permits), Alternate Energy Inc. (289 permits), RevoluSun LLC (244 permits) and American Electric Co. LLC (156 permits).
Last month, Hawaiian Electric Co. and the state Division of Consumer Advocacy said they both opposed a request by an alliance of solar industry companies and trade groups to increase the cap on one of the options for installing rooftop solar that replaced net energy metering.
The group estimates that incoming applications will likely fill any remaining capacity on all islands by the beginning of August.
The state’s largest utility, through its attorneys, said this week there is a limit to the amount of load to be served, and the state and PUC need to determine how best to serve this load so that it is both cost effective and reliable for all customers.