Archive for the ‘solar’ Category

Hallelujah! Solar-powered church

December 6th, 2014
By



Newly installed solar photovoltaic system at Central  Union Church in Honolulu. Unveiling and celebration will take place after the 9 a.m. service on Sunday, Dec. 7. Photo courtesy Central Union Church.

Newly installed solar photovoltaic system at Central Union Church in Honolulu. Unveiling and celebration will take place after the 9 a.m. service on Sunday, Dec. 7. Photo courtesy Central Union Church.

Central Union Church in Honolulu is unveiling its solar photovoltaic system at a celebration at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7.

The church, through Distributed Energy Partners, installed 336 Sun Power 345-watt panels on to the Women's Building and Parrish Hall on its campus. The panels are expected to produce 179,318 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, saving the church about a third of its electricity costs.

That translates to a reduction of 254,273 pounds of carbon emissions, 445 barrels of oil and 14,590 pounds of nitrous oxide pollution.

There will be a ribbon cutting, followed by a short presentation and tour of how the solar panels work.

In case you didn't know it, there is actually a certification for cool congregations, awarded by a group called Interfaith Power & Light, which says its mission is to be "faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy."

Central Union Church became one of 20 churches nationwide to be recognized as a Certified Cool Congregation in the summer. It's cool to see churches taking an active role in sustainability.

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Solar-powered Rainbow

November 10th, 2014
By



Rainbow Drive-In installed a solar PV system that should shave 60 percent off its electricity bill once it's up and running. The solar array extends over beams that create shaded parking. Photo by Nina Wu.

Rainbow Drive-In installed a solar PV system that should shave 60 percent off its electricity bill once it's up and running. The solar array extends over beams — a solar canopy — that also offers shaded parking. Photo by Nina Wu.

Rainbow Drive-In, a longtime favorite in Kapahulu, has gone solar.

You may have actually parked  beneath the solar canopy, which provides shaded parking while supporting photovoltaic panels. While the 56.1-kilowatt system installed by Kama‘aina Solar Solutions hasn't been activated yet, it's expected to save the favorite plate lunch spot about 60 percent on its monthly electricity bill once it is.

And that's no small bill, at an average of $5,500 a month, according to owner and vice president Jim Gusukuma.

So the neon rainbow, fridges and other appliances at Rainbow Drive-In will all be solar-powered. Loco moco and milkshakes powered by sunshine-generated power in sunny Kapahulu – that's pretty cool.

Since there wasn't enough rooftop space for all 184 panels, Kama‘aina created the solar canopy. The canopy created shade for a few additional tables for the drive-in plus covered parking. It's a brilliant design idea, plus it qualifies for the 30 percent federal solar tax credit.

It's a smart move for the small, family-run business founded by Seiji Ifuku in 1961. Back then, you could get 50-cent chili with rice plate, 25-cent hamburgers and 14-cent French fries. Today, Rainbow Drive-In is one of the few places you can still get a hearty plate lunch for under $10.

The Rain Bowls (clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless Rain Bowls, clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless fried chicken, chili frank, and teri beef, are photographed inside the Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens store (Sun, Sept. 14 photo, Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).

The Rain Bowls (clockwise, from top, teri pork, boneless fried chicken, chili frank, and teri beef, are photographed inside the Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens store (Sun, Sept. 14 photo, Honolulu Star-Advertiser/Jamm Aquino).

When the landlord offered a 25-year lease, Gusukuma said it allowed the small business to make improvements. Solar was at the top of the list.

The drive-in at 3308 Kanaina Ave., which was featured on Guy Fieri's "Drivers, Dine-ins and Dives"  expanded its offerings earlier this year, as detailed in this Honolulu Pulse post . At Hawaii's Favorite Kitchens next door (3111 Castle St.), you can now get Rainbowls (with brown or white rice), the KC waffle dog, a Poke Stop bowl or pick up some huli huli chicken from Hoku BBQ chicken.

In today's Green Leaf column, Gusukuma (who also drives an electric BMW i3) said: "I think, eventually, solar is the cleanest way to go. If you're able to do it, you have that obligation for the future."

Here's to another 50 years for Rainbow Drive-In, open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

View of the solar canopy at Rainbow Drive-In from underneath. Photos by Nina Wu.

View of the solar canopy at Rainbow Drive-In from underneath. Photo by Nina Wu.

Gubernatorial candidates on solar

November 3rd, 2014
By



LanikaiSolar

So where do Hawaii's gubernatorial candidates stand on solar and accessibility to solar?

The Green Leaf made the following queries a week ago, and down to the wire, here are how candidates Jeff Davis (Libertarian), former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann (Independent), former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona (Republican) and Sen. David Ige (Democrat) responded, in the order that they were received.

The candidates aired their perspectives earlier, including their views on LNG (liquefied natural gas), in an Oct. 14 Gubernatorial Forum on Clean Energy for Hawaii's Future hosted by ThinkTech Hawaii at the Laniakea YWCA.

In Florida, the "Sunshine State," solar has become a major rallying point for the race between the state's current governor, Rick Scott, and former governor, Charlie Crist. Energy, and the source of energy, for the Aloha State, is no doubt just as crucial, given that our electricity rates are three times higher than the national average.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 4, is the last opportunity to vote, if you did not vote early or by absentee. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit our voter guide to find out where to vote.

Do you feel HECO's action plan filed Aug. 26 is fair to solar PV customers in Hawaii, as well as to regular electricity customers in Hawaii?

Jeff Davis, solar contractor, radio talk show host, Libertarian

Since last Sept. 6, 2013, the PV world in Hawaii and our  bright future has come completely screeching to a halt. Now to suggest that there be two classes of rateplayers, and that certain people be grandfathered in is the continuance of absurdity with which the Hawaiian Electric Industries has dealt with its competitor, the PV industry, in general. Because we are their competitor.

Mufi Hannemann, former Honolulu mayor, Independent

HECO’s plan is seriously deficient, as the Public Utilities Commission made plain in its comments on the plan (Docket 2014-0183). In particular it has failed to embrace the full potential of renewable energy resources and it continues to rely far too heavily on fossil fuels. Electricity prices in Hawaii are 300% higher than the mainland. This is hurting families and businesses.

We need a much more proactive approach, one that encompasses solar and wind to the fullest extent possible and is open to geothermal power, the one energy resource that can really move the needle on fossil dependence and provide cheap, clean, renewable energy in very large amounts 24 hours a day. We need a smart inter-island grid that is more flexible, more efficient and can accept power generation from all sources.

Solar PV customers, all electricity customers, are being short changed by our current approach. And it is a self-defeating and ultimately pointless exercise to pit one set of customers against another. The job of the Governor is to ensure we free ourselves of our dependence of foreign oil, invest in alternative energy sources, build a new grid and lower electricity prices.

Duke Aiona, former Lt. Gov., Republican

If we have to change the system by creating a separate utility for transmission and distribution, in order to make alternative energies like solar more accessible to the community then I would consider that an option as well as neighborhood and community coops, which would empower neighborhoods as opposed to pitting them against one another.

David Ige, state senator, electrical engineer, Democrat

Did not respond to questions.

What will you do to help ease the hurdles faced by middle-class families that want to invest in solar but are faced with greater costs for doing so imposed by HEI (HECO, MECO, HELCO)? How will you help the 3,500 or more customers who invested their hard-earned money into solar PV systems but are still waiting to get connected to the grid, as well as those who have had to wait more than nine months?

Jeff Davis

In the simplest of terms, HEI must be taken out of the pay-to-play role. They cannot serve two masters — their shareholders and the public.  HEI must be, with aloha and grace, taken into a for-public coop and removed from being traded as a stock entity. There's no solving any of these problems without tackling the problem of a for-profit monopoly.

Mufi Hannemann

We are deeply concerned at the delays and uncertainties concerning HECO's ability to connect solar PV systems to the grid. The PUC should require HECO to immediately remediate the situation, and to impost penalties if they cannot comply. Otherwise, with federal subsidies for PV systems scheduled to end in 2016, possibly up to 200 Megawatts of commercial solar power production may now not go forward in Hawaii. This is unconscionable.

Duke Aiona

I believe that the presumption should be changed. HECO should have to prove that solar installations can not be connected to the grid, rather than the solar customer having to prove it can be. HECO has the resources and the ability. Why should the responsibility be on the consumer?

David Ige

Did not respond to questions.

How do you plan to keep the Public Utilities Commission, and HECO, accountable in genuinely implementing Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative? How will you help us reach those goals?

Jeff Davis

Number one, for the interim between taking HEI to a coop, we need to beef up the budget and personnel of the PUC. We need to take the PUC's appointments away from the political party in power and perhaps we should put the PUC members on a ballot and elect them.

Mufi Hannemann

The PUC's mandate should be expanded to actively promote the development and distribution of all renewable energy resources. It must require HECO to invest meaningfully in renewables and hold it accountable by basing its rate decisions on performance against quantified goals not costs. We should give the PUC the resources it needs to do its job and stop the State from raiding its funds for other purposes.

Duke Aiona

The PUC deserves to be supported by the administration with resources and direction. My direction to the PUC will be to consider all options that reduce the cost of energy in Hawaii, while being sensitive to the environment.

David Ige

Did not respond to questions.

SolarcourtesyBPF

Patagonia, Kina‘ole, invest in solar

October 23rd, 2014
By



Patagonia, which has two stores on Oahu, is putting money where the sunshine is.

The Ventura, Calif.-based outdoor clothing company is joining forces with local solar finance company, Kina‘ole Capital Partners LLC  to create a new $27 million fund to purchase rooftop solar photovolatic systems in Hawaii. Patagonia is offering a $13 million tax equity investment. The fund will be available to all qualified solar installation companies in Hawaii to help purchase more than 1,000 rooftop solar energy systems in Hawaii.

Patagonia's investment comes through its $20 Million & Change fund, which was launched in 2013 to help innovative, like-minded startup companies bring about solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business. As Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard put it: "Working with nature rather than using it up."

PatagoniaSolar

"This is smart business for Patagonia and good news for homeowners in Hawaii, who pay way too much for dirty electricity," said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario. "I hope other companies see how this strategy can bring strong returns and think seriously about doing the same thing.  Business is in a unique position to accelerate the creation of renewable energy infrastructure."

The announcement, made Oct. 15, comes at a time when many solar companies are in a difficult position in Hawaii due to hurdles created by the Hawaiian Electric Co. Approximately 3,500 solar PV customers in highly saturated areas (depending on the circuit they are on) are still waiting to get connected to the grid. Some have waited as long as nine months. HECO says they have to wait due to grid safety and reliability issues.

In addition, HECO recently outlined an action plan in late August — pending Public Utilities Commission approval — to raise the fixed connection fee for all customers on Oahu to a minimum of $55 (instead of $17), and an increase to $71 for new solar PV customers. At the same time, HECO proposes reducing the credit for excess energy produced by solar PV customers to just 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, half of what it currently offers. It is also proposing all new solar PV customers pay an additional, as-of-yet-unknown fee.

The plan has been criticized by the state Department of Economic Development and Tourism as one that embraces an outdated business model while doing more to benefit the utility than the public.

Still, solar is a great investment, and makes sense in a state that gets 271 days of sun annually. Despite the fees proposed by HECO , there will still be a return on your investment (even if it will take longer) — and best of all, it'll be a switch to clean energy, which is part of Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative.

The solar energy systems purchased by the fund would potentially reduce 153,000 tons of carbon dioxide — or the equivalent of taking 29,000 passenger vehicles off the road. The solar investment also creates hundreds of jobs, including ones for Patagonia's surf ambassador Kohl Christensen and his Oahu-based solar company.

So kudos to Patagonia for leading the way!

Patagonia surf ambassador Kohl Christensen installing solar panels. Photo courtesy Patagonia.

Patagonia surf ambassador Kohl Christensen installing solar panels. Photo courtesy Patagonia.

Tell it to HECO

October 2nd, 2014
By



 solar-PV-1024x685

Absolutely p.o.'ed. Disappointed. Insulted.

These are the responses I've heard from people who either own or lease solar photovoltaic panels regarding the plan that the Hawaiian Electric Co. recently proposed which would raise basic connection fees for all customers to $55, while imposing an additional $71 for new solar PV customers.

HECO also proposes that the utility credit solar PV customers about half of what they get now — at just 17 cents per kilowatt-hour — for the clean energy that they produce. In other words, if they produce the energy, they charge a premium. If solar PV customers produce clean energy, it should be worth less. How is that fair? How is charging ALL customers MORE — a whopping $55 (which is unheard of in any other state) — fair to everyone? Is it fair to change the rules in the middle of the game? Not in my book.

Meanwhile, more than 4,400 solar PV customers are still waiting to be connected to the grid. HECO has not answered questions of when they will be connected, or how they will be compensated, as they very well deserve to be.

Solar is not a luxury. It's a technology that middle-class families from Waianae to Hawaii Kai, small businesses and non-profits invested in as part of a step towards a clean energy future and energy independence. It's a technology that makes sense for Hawaii.

Polls show that an overwhelming number of people want more rooftop solar in Hawaii, according to the Sierra Club, which adds that "customer choice is in the public interest."

So give HECO a piece of your mind. Or tell it to the Public Utilities Commission, which still has to approve HECO's Aug. 26 plan. Public comment is welcome at hawaii.puc@hawaii.gov by Oct. 6. Put the docket number in the subject line. (ex.Public Comment – Docket No. 2014-0192 – DGIP). Let your solar voice be heard.

Separately, you can also contact Hawaii's legislators (contact info is available at capitol.hawaii.gov).

Letters to the editor have been rolling in, with the vast majority expressing disappointment and disbelief with HECO's plan. For your convenience,  here are "Letters to the Editor" that ran in the Star-Advertiser in the past few weeks. Shows you how powerful the voices for solar can be together (scroll all the way down, the earliest one's my favorite). Keep them coming.

Oct. 18, 2014

Rosenblum gets a sweet deal

Did I read this correctly ("Ex-HECO chief to get $551K as consultant," Star-Advertiser, Oct. 15)?

Hawaiian Electric Co. is paying former president and CEO Dick Rosenblum $551,000 for six months of work to be an "adviser" to HECO chairwoman Connie Lau immediately after he retires on Jan. 5.

So you have a current chairwoman, Lau, who has seemingly thwarted our state in its move toward energy independence, hiring Rosenblum to advise her on things she already knows or could be advised of between now and Rosenblum's retirement.

I don't get it. Something smells. Hopefully the public and the state Public Utilities Commission smell something, too.

Orson Moon
Aiea

PV owners being mistreated?

It seems Hawaiian Electric Co. has managed to pit photovoltaic owners against non-photovoltaic owners.

The erroneous assumption is PV owners are not paying their fair share because they are not buying enough energy. What happened to decoupling?

Saying to get off the grid if you do not like it ignores the fact that if 11 percent of the grid's users got off and stopped paying the minimum, that cost would have to be absorbed by the remaining 89 percent. Seventeen dollars may be too little, but $71 is too much, and it is unfair to make people pay more for using less.

Michael B. Moore
Kapalama

Sept. 27, 2014

HECO failing at lowering bills

I'm a photovoltaic investor and it saddens me to have read negative responses to PV systems.

I shouldn't have to explain why we decided to invest our hard-earned money into a PV system, but I feel I must.

The reason my family did it was to get away from a huge monopoly like Hawaiian Electric Co. and start using the money saved from the outrageous electric bills to something more important -- our kids.

It seems to me HECO is trying to create an animosity between us and a distraction from the bigger picture.

There are fewer customers on the grid but HECO is still charging three times more for electricity. Why hasn't it figured out how to take the unused electricity my PV system produces and apply it to non-rooftop solar customers to lessen their electric bills?

Could it be HECO was unprepared?

Crystal Padron
Kapolei

Sept. 26, 2014

HECO delaying sustainability

Stop falling for Hawaiian Electric Co.'s misinformation campaign that pits customers against each other ("No special deals for PV owners," Star-Advertiser, Letters, Sept. 11).

Unfortunately, we're past the luxury of bickering. Climate change is real. Climate change is here. Any doubters should check out what's happening with rising sea levels on the islands of Kiribati, then go to watchdisruption.com.

HECO's plan slows Hawaii's move to clean energy and self-sustainability.

In addition to slowing photovoltaic installations, it swaps oil for liquefied natural gas, another fossil fuel, drilled via "fracking," which creates climate impacts just as bad as oil.

Fracking also ruins communities by exposing them to environmental and health hazards, including toxic leakage into their drinking water.

I don't think the people of Hawaii want to be party to this type of devastation.

We must all do everything we can to bring down carbon emissions, and that means cooperation and putting the planet before HECO profits.

Sherry Pollack
Ahuimanu

PV owners now being penalized

We installed thousands of dollars worth of photovoltaics two years ago.

It was our out-of-pocket gesture to benefit the community and help protect the environment.

It was also, incidentally, a very real subsidy to Hawaiian Electric Co., in the form of reduced fossil fuel costs, thereby freeing up funds which could be used to maintain and improve the electrical grid.

We generate all our own home power, plus some extra for the community to share. Based on our past electric bills, we won't recoup our investment for more than 10 years. Oahu's other 33,000 PV owners are doing essentially the same.

Let's not forget that PV owners paid their dues, up front, when purchasing their systems. We committed personal resources to move all of us toward our shared goal: clean air and energy independence.

Why, then, should we be financially penalized and seen as part of the problem, when we're proactively pursuing the solution?

Don Hallock
St. Louis Heights

Sept. 24, 2014

HECO driving customers away

Here is a glimpse of the future if Hawaiian Electric Co. raises the hook-up rate for solar customers:

Solar customers will look at the annual $850 or so that HECO is charging to be connected to the grid, do the math, and figure out that if they buy batteries and a generator, they will not need HECO. Battery technology is getting cheaper.

HECO is getting what amounts to free power from the excess from these customers. New HECO generators to replace this lost power will be very expensive.

HECO's CEO, Constance Lau, as reported in 2013, was earning $5.82 million per year. If you have a family of four, you are paying more than $20 a year just for Lau's salary. Double that for the next few key executives.

With solar customers opting out of the grid, that burden falls on fewer shoulders.

All rates will go up.

Tom Wallace
Hawaii Kai

Sept. 19, 2014

HECO conquers by dividing us

Hawaiian Electric Co. created a debate pitting ratepayer against rate-payer, deflecting attention from the real issues at hand.

Temperatures could increase by 2 degrees by the mid-2030s according to Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group vice president and special envoy for Climate Change. Kyte also said we could be staring at an ongoing food crisis within the next decade.

One person in five receives aid through the Hawaii Food Bank. Making matters worse, we can expect a sharp climate-induced rise in food prices due to the severe drought in California. Many will have to choose between feeding their families or paying their electric bill.

HECO and its shareholders should bear some of the burden. And HECO should be mobilizing its resources to expedite a grid with majority renewable energy to help reduce rates. We all need to make sacrifices in this era of climate change.

Dan Nakasone
Wahiawa

Sept. 18, 2014

It's not HECO's call about tax rebates

Something seems to have been lost in the debate over our rooftop solar panels.

The idea was to find a way to reduce the island's collective carbon dioxide footprint. In order to do that, homeowners needed an incentive. Tax rebates are that incentive.

This should not be Hawaiian Electric's call. HECO, as a corporation, has no interest in reducing CO2, if it costs the corpor- ation money.

That is why, I hope, we have government and regulations that lean toward the interests of the people, not the corporations.

Garry Francell
Waialae Nui Ridge

Solar production was boon for HECO

Hawaiian Electric Co. encouraged solar power production because it made economic sense for HECO and for all its customers.

This solar power production deferred rate increases for needed generating capacity that HECO otherwise would have been required to build itself. HECO also touts solar power as a non-fossil-fueled, sustainable resource.

Due to significant tax credits, customer-generated solar power was cheaper (and more timely) than power that HECO could have produced itself. HECO enjoyed the additional capacity, deferred ratemaking politics, and avoided the customer rate-shock that would have occurred if it had built this generating capacity itself.

Shame on HECO for creating a wedge between its solar and non-solar customers over transmission upgrade costs.

HECO dollars to be spent on transmission upgrades have been more than offset by the dollars that HECO saved by not building this generating capacity itself, dollars that ultimately all HECO customers would have paid.

Donald Armstrong
Kailua

Sept. 14, 2014

"PV system permits plummet on Oahu," Star-Advertiser, Sept. 10:

» Anybody who says Hawaiian Electric did not anticipate the demand is drinking the HECO Kool-Aid. I agree, they did not plan for it, but not because it wasn't evident in all the numbers.

» HECO did not anticipate, HECO did not anticipate, HECO did not anticipate. I am so sick and tired of hearing this because all it is saying is that they did not plan or do their job!

» Hawaiian Electric currently pays a 5 percent annual dividend. PV is not an option for me, so I bought shares of HE stock. For now, the 5 percent dividend covers my electricity bill.

» Lemons into lemonade. Good for you.

Sept. 7, 2014

HECO profiting well from PV customers

Hawaiian Electric Co. President Dick Rosenblum's latest quote, "We just want them to pay their fair share" regarding residential PV owners, really galled me.

HECO proposes to not only increase the base charge but also reduce by half the price of the credits it's giving solar owners, citing fairness and pandering for support from those without PV panels upset about paying full price.

If Rosenblum wants to talk fair share, how about HECO sending a check for that electricity they're taking from me and selling to non-solar owners?Even at the reduced rate, it would be a pretty penny every year.

HECO doesn't pay a dime for residential PV systems yet profits by re-selling any annual over-production from the panels at full price with absolutely no overhead to itself when the credits zero out.

I hope the state Public Utilities Commission sees through this charade to pad HECO's bottom line and that the Star-Advertiser does a little investigative reporting to bring the heat.

Mike Hanson
Mililani

Sept. 4, 2014

Maybe turn HECO into a nonprofit

The premise of Hawaiian Electric Co. President Dick Rosenblum's defense of proposed HECO rates seems to be that solar power adopters are getting a "good deal" from HECO ratepayers after paying off their solar systems.

Rosenblum seems to conflate taxpayers with ratepayers.My solar "deal" was a result of taxpayers deciding that the common good was served by decreasing the amount of electricity generated by HECO and increasing the amount of electricity generated by individual solar panels.The $55 charge advocated by HECO is really solar owners paying for 200 kWh of electricity they don't use.

Using Rosenblum's logic, shouldn't taxpayers own HECO so that the subsidies provided from non-solar to solar customers are equitably distributed?

HECO reported $161 million profit for 2013.If HECO was non-profit, the $38 million subsidy claimed by Rosenblum could be easily absorbed by the public corporation and rates could be lowered for all.

Mark Felman
Kapolei

Sept. 2, 2014

HEI salaries related to high energy cost?

Informative and interesting article on high-salaried occupations in Hawaii ("Medical field tops wage ranking in Hawaii," Star-Advertiser, Aug. 28).

Going a little further and calculating, it appears that the CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries received in the neighborhood of $2,885 an hour. Once you calculate the salaries of all other Hawaiian Electric employees, the total annual salaries must be off the charts.

Could that be one of the reasons that Hwaii owners and businesses pay the highest price in the nation for electricity?

James l. Robinson
Aiea

What will new rate be called on bill?

HECO's new plan will raise more than solar rates; it will raise mine, too, and I'm not a solar customer because I live in a condo.

HECO says it now charges 34 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).

When I do the math, my last bill came out to 37.7 cents per kWh, all charges inclusive. Even if HECO reduced the charge from 37.7 cents per kWh to 26 cents per kWh and then added the $55 charge, my bill would increase by 25 percent.

I say, OK, charge me the 34 cents per kWh (not the 37.7 cents per kWh), but forget the $55 charge.

What does it plan to call the new charge anyway?My bill already has the following ambiguous charges on it:Customer Charge; Base Fuel Energy; Non Fuel Energy; Energy Cost Adjustment; IRP Cost Recovery; PBF Surcharge; Purchased Power Adjustment; RBA Rate Adjustment; and Renewable Infrastructure Pgm.

HECO is the wolf in sheep's clothing. Baaaaaa to its plan.

Kathleen Adams
Mililani

Aug. 31, 2014

HECO energy plan will kill PV industry

Shibai! Hawaiian Electric Co.'s so-called energy plan is anti-green and anti-renewable energy.

First, it will penalize photovoltaic (PV) customers who invested tens of thousands of dollars to become energy efficient.That will also destroy the PV industry in Hawaii.

Second, while HECO claims it wants to reduce charges to non-PV customers, the plan actually provides their rates will increase, too -- all in the mere hope that after 2030 HECO "might" reduce energy costs for everyone.

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Michael A. Lilly
Pacific Heights

Changing rules now unfair to PV owners

My electric bill last month was $17.

We delivered to Hawaiian Electric Co. 280 kilowatt hours (kWh) and received 220 kWh for a credit of 60 kWh. But with the proposed rate increase we would have to pay $99.57 -- a dramatic increase.

Here's the calculation: To HECO, we would have to pay 220 kWh times 34.62 cents, totaling $76.17 for the electricity we received, and simultaneously, receive a credit of 280 kWh times 17 cents for $47.60 total for the power we feed into their system(instead of our present 280 kWh times 34.62 cents for $96.93 total).

So although this wasa good summer month and we made more electricity than we used, we still would have a negative balance of $28.57 ($76.17 - $47.60 = $28.57).

Add to that the proposed new fixed monthly charge of $71 and our bill would then be $28.57 + $7 = $99.57. This would make solar a poor investment for us and probably many other solar customers.

HECO should not be allowed to change the present rules for existing solar owners, because the present rules were the main reason people bought solar.

Volker Hildebrandt
Kaneohe

Aug. 30, 2014

HECO plan will ensure its profits

HECO has come up with a new plan that sounds more like a way to discourage private photovoltaic (PV) installations and effectively raise rates.

» Step 1: Promise (someday) a 20 percent reduction in electric rates.

For its mythical average customer using 600 kilowatt hours a month, that would be a savings of around $42 monthly.

» Step 2: More than quadruple the minimum monthly charge to people with PV from $17 a month to $71 a month, a $54 monthly hike.

» Step 3: Charge a one-time interconnection fee of an undisclosed amount for each PV installation.

» Step 4: Reduce the credit for electricity supplied by customers' PV installations in half (from the retail rate of about 35 cents per kWh to 17 cents per kWh).

Result: More profit for HECO.

Battery backed-up, off-grid installations will become more attractive, and HECO's customer base will decrease even further.

Result: Less reliable grid.

Bob Gould
Kaneohe

 

Solar vigil

August 22nd, 2014
By



Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

Image courtesy Blue Planet Foundation.

The Sierra Club of Hawai‘i is inviting solar supporters to attend a candle lit vigil outside of HECO headquarters (across from 820 Ward Ave.) in Honolulu  from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 25.

Tuesday is the deadline for HECO to come up with a better plan to lower electricity rates and increase access to rooftop solar, as mandated by the Public Utilities Commission back in April.

"The message is simple: to reach energy independence, we need a plan for solar success. Without a plan to revive it, solar will remain on life support," said the club in an email calling for the vigil.

Click here if you want to join the vigil.

 

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Put Solar On It

June 20th, 2014
By



 

RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

RevoluSun recently installed the second phase of a 392.5 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on Kauai's Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Courtesy image.

Get ready, get sun — and put solar on it.

Celebrate solar power this weekend with the rest of the U.S. as part of the "Put Solar on It" campaign on Saturday, June 21, the summer solstice (longest day of the year). Cities across the U.S. are offering solar-related events.

The campaign is led by actor Mark Ruffalo, which asks the public to commit to putting solar on a building — whether it be your home, your school, place of worship or business. In return, Mosaic, the company known for crowdfunding solar panel projects across the country, will offer you the tools to make the project happen. Ruffalo has committed to putting solar on his children's elementary school this year.

Solar just makes so much sense in Hawaii, which has set a goal of achieving 70 percent clean energy by 2030 as part of our Clean Energy Initiative. Hawaii has made some recent headway towards making this goal a reality.

Renewable Funding, based in Oakland, Calif. was recently selected to develop and manage Hawaii's "Green Energy Market Securitization" (GEMS) program, with the goal of opening the door to underserved markets.

GEMS will use $150 million in low-cost bond market funds in combination with other sources of private capital to finance the upfront cost of solar PV systems for thousands of residents and businesses in Hawaii. Financing is expected to begin in late 2014.

"The GEMS approach is a game changer — it allows residents and businesses to install clean energy improvements using the same kind of financing that had previously only been available for utility-scale facilities," said Renewable Funding CEO Cisco DeVries (also the founder of PACE). "We applaud Gov. Abercrombie, the Public Utilities Commission and the State Legislature for taking this ambitious step to expand the availability of clean energy in Hawaii."

The Blue Planet Foundation also launched Wefficiency to help non-profits obtain funds needed to become more energy-efficient, through crowdfunding.

A list of Top Community Places in Hawaii listed in the Put Solar On It campaign at joinmosaic.com/solar/hawaii include St. Andrews Priory, Aiea Public Library, Waipahu Intermediate School, Soto Academy and ‘Iolani School. You can vote to support any of these places online.

Solar has so much more potential in Hawaii.

Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai recently announced the installation of a new photovoltaic (PV) system that should save it about $217,000 a year in energy costs, and $7.6 million over the life of the system.

As for me, I'll be looking up at the sun on Saturday, smiling...

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Rally for clean energy

April 30th, 2014
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Hundreds of students showed up for a clean energy rally on Earth Day (April 22). Courtesy photo.

Hundreds of students showed up for a clean energy rally on Earth Day (April 22). Courtesy photo.

It's great to see students taking an active part in their own future.

On Earth Day (April 22), more than 270 middle school, high school and university students converged at Hawaii State Capitol for a clean energy rally hosted by the Blue Planet Foundation.

They waved signs along Beretania Street, advocating for a clean energy future powered by local, renewable energy sources to end Hawaii's dependency on fossil fuels.

Blue Planet believes it is critical for Hawaii to embrace innovative clean energy strategies now more than ever. Time is running out, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has issued three reports in the last seven months.

Students from throughout Oahu — both public and private  — including Farrington High School, Waialua High and Intermediate, Nanakuli High and Intermediate, Leilehua High School, Hawaii Pacific University, Hongwanji Mission School, ‘Iolani School and Le Jardin Academy, participated.

They collaborated with artists DrewToonz and Michal Abramovitz to create  signs saying, "We have the power" and "We are the future."

Rep. Chris Lee, Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers, and students at the Clean Energy Rally on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day). Courtesy photo.

Rep. Chris Lee, Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers, and students at the Clean Energy Rally on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day). Courtesy photo.

"These students will inherit the consequences of the choices we're making and the actions we're taking today," said Blue Planet Foundation CEO Jeff Mikulina. "They realize it's their future at stake, and they see the opportunity in switching from dirty energy to clean energy, from dependence to independence.

Among clean energy policies under consideration this session is Senate Bill 2934, a measure to establish a community solar program. The program would enable renters, residents living in condos and apartments, and homeowners on saturated circuits to invest in solar electricity located off their property. Similar programs have been enacted in 10 other states.

To learn more, visit blueplanetfoundation.org/communitysolar.

Students from Le Jardin Academy hold up signs saying, "We are the future." Courtesy photo.

Students from Le Jardin Academy hold up signs saying, "We are the future." Courtesy photo.

Clean energy jobs

March 12th, 2014
By



Star-Advertiser file photo.

Workers install a solar photovoltaic panel on to a rooftop. Star-Advertiser file photo.

Let's hear it for clean energy jobs.

Hawaii ranked no. 3 among the top 10 states for clean energy job postings last year, and was also among the top 10 in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a report by nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

California ranked No. 1, followed by Texas at No. 2.

But there's certainly room for improvement.

The E2 report cites a survey revealing overwhelming public support for solar energy as well as opposition to a hookup fee in Hawaii. HECO, meanwhile, seeks approval for six more renewable energy projects in the state.

Click here for the Brookings fact sheet detailing clean job growth and wages in Hawaii. Brookings ranked Hawaii 45th among 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of its overall size (with 11,113 clean jobs). The estimated median wage in Hawaii's clean economy is $42,235 compared to $38,615 for all jobs in Hawaii.

Among the statewide facts the E2 report listed for Hawaii:

>> Hawaii has 916 megawatt hours of renewable generation, with the potential for 2.9 million Gigawatt hours (equal to 1 billion watt hours)of renewable energy.

>> A sampling of Hawaii job announcements include positions for a solar facility on Kauai, a retrofit of state airports, a wind farm on Oahu and a solar farm at Kalealoa.

There was no mention of Oahu's rail transit project.

Nationwide, Environmental Entrepreneurs tracked more than 78, 600 clean energy and clean transportation job announcements in 2013. Solar power generation was the year's top sector, with more than 21,600 jobs announced. Other strong sectors included building efficiency and public transportation.

"Our report makes it clear," said E2 executive director Judith Albert. "When we invest in clean energy and clean transportation, we put people to work in every corner of the country. Whether it's a new wind farm in Iowa, an energy efficiency retrofit in Massachusetts, or a utility-scale solar array in Nevada, these projects require American ingenuity and labor. The sector is helping stimulate our economy."

See the full report at www.CleanEnergyWorksForUs.org.

Solar Love

February 14th, 2014
By



candyheart_interconnectme

"Roses are red, violets are blue. I like my energy green. How about you?"

Today, Valentine's Day, customers plan to send "love notes" to dozens of Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO), Maui Electric Co. (MECO) and Hawaii Electric Light (HELCO) employees.

The customers are lamenting the fact that they are still waiting — to connect their rooftop solar photovoltaic systems — to the grid.

A recent poll demonstrated that 96 percent of people in Hawaii support or strongly support efforts to make solar power more available, according to Robert Harris, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii.

"We hope hundreds of customer voices will cause Hawaiian Electric employees to feel the solar love, and commit to building a modern, 21st century grid that can handle more intermittent power," said Harris in a press release.

House Bill 1943 requires the Public Utilities Commission to initiate a proceeding no later than July 1, discussing upgrades to the Hawaii electric system for anticipated growth in solar electricity generated by customers. The bill is making its way through the Hawaii State Legislature's House.

Rather than frame the issue as a battle between solar PV customers and non-solar PV customers (because non-solar customers will have to subsidize upgrades to the system), we should be asking why HECO isn't taking the responsibility of modernizing the grid.

I love solar, and I want you to have it (and love it), too. XOXO

candyheart_solarbaby