11,493 rooftop solar systems in Hawaii still waiting to be installed, says report

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According to HSEA's latest report, 11,493 utility-approved rooftop PV systems remain uninstalled, with the number of solar projects built down 27.5% since May 2015. Source: Flickr - Jon Callas

There are 11,493 utility-approved rooftop solar systems in Hawaii that remain uninstalled, according to a new report by the Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA).

The report details the bleak outlook for the Hawaii solar industry – which has been cloudy for the third consecutive month.

The overly-subscribed Customer Grid Supply (CGS) programme together with Customer Self Supply (CSS) programme has replaced net-metering on the Island. The CGS has proved so popular that the it could come to a premature end in August in Oahu and much sooner in Maui if the interim 35MW cap is not raised. Despite industry representatives, including SunPower and The Alliance for Solar Choice, requesting a cap increase, the Hawaiian Electric Co (HECO) and the Consumer Advocacy urged the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to oppose the measure.

HECO asserted that the less popular CSS programme should be sufficient to serve as the primary alternative to net-metering until further notice. However, according to HSEA’s report, since the inception of the CSS almost a year ago, only four customers have been approved for installations under the programme. “It is too soon to know whether the Self Supply programme will ever be a viable alternative to Grid Supply, but the facts are clear it is not ready to serve that role now,” the report states.

The report also reveals a year-over-year fall in closed permits; permits which represents solar projects that have been completed in their entirety. The considerable decline in closed permits shows that the number of solar projects built in Hawaii have decreased and are down 27.5% since May 2015. Furthermore, pulled permits, which represent anticipated projects for the near future, were down 33.6% from May 2015.

Data from the report also suggests that consistent growth is in store for the CGS programme. However, unless the cap is raised, customers will have to rely on the CSS programme – that has so far proved inadequate.

“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 stabilising policy changes are implemented soon,” said Hajime Alabanza, executive assistant to HSEA. “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.”

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