Hawaiian Electric Company is proposing a new pilot project that paves the way for 50 Oahu customers to enjoy the benefits of solar without having to put panels on their rooftops.
HECO calls it a low-risk, hassle-free way to reduce bills for property owners who either don’t want panels on their roofs or don’t have access to their rooftops.
“A lot of people are interested in solar who just can’t get solar today,” said Peter Rosegg, HECO spokesman. “They don’t own the roof, they live in a high-rise or for whatever reason, that they should have some of the benefits of communities.”
Approximately 50 customers will become part of a community solar share project by paying an upfront cost of $5,711 plus a $200 enrollment fee.
HECO says customers will also pay a small maintenance fee, but then receive credit for a share of the electricity generated by the community solar facility.
It’s expected that credit will reduce monthly bills by about 45 percent.
“The electricity from community solar goes into the system at the lowest possible rate. So Hawaiian Electric doesn’t make any profit off community solar and we will actually lose a little bit of money on this pilot, but the people who will get the benefit are the participants and everybody else who uses electricity,” Rosegg said.
The pilot project, which still needs to be approved by the Public Utilities Commission, would continue for 17 years with an opt-out at any time for the customer.
If you move, the solar credit moves with you.
“You don’t have to worry about the panels, about how your roof is doing or removing the panels at the end of their useful life,” Rosegg said.
Applications would become available if and when the project is approved.
HECO proposes to use the combined 260 kilowatts of existing solar capacity at Waiau and Campbell Industrial Park power plants for the pilot.
The project would not affect the ability of customers to obtain approval to interconnect rooftop solar systems, HECO said.