Rooftop PV system applications could move quicker with addition of battery storage

Some Hawaii homeowners have been waiting more than a year to get their rooftop photovoltaic systems approved — but is there a way to fast-track your application?

There is a possiblity with battery storage. The state is reviewing options for these systems and a quicker application approval could be one of the outcomes.

“That way you can store and be able to use in your home later that evening or whenever you need it at a different time of the day,” said Chris DeBone with Hawaii Energy Connection.

DeBone said it not only allows homeowners to store extra energy, they’d also have backup power if the grid goes down.

The customer demand is there, but the policies are not. “As more and more people think they’re going to use batteries to do this,” he said, “it’s going to affect the power distribution and the circuit, and it could affect reliability for others.”

Public Utilities Commission chairman Randy Iwase said homeowners need approval to use battery storage.

A Hawaiian Electric spokesperson said the utility is reviewing and approving PV systems that use battery storage, and are handled on a case-by-case basis. Officials said applications may require more review because there are no approved interconnection standards for battery systems in the state.

Right now, the PUC is reviewing options for battery storage systems and the decision could come out in a month.

Iwase said “if the battery storage option is going to be supportive of the grid and help maintain grid integrity, then is there a process by which Hawaiian Electric can expedite the process?”

Battery storage has its benefits, but it does come with a hefty price tag, with some companies selling it for about $10,000.

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