More than 100 MW of solar were installed across the Hawaiian Electric companies’ service territories in 2017, a 19% jump from the previous year, according to the utility. The addition, which represents the largest increase in five years, is expected to help to move the state closer to its 100% renewable energy goal.
Hawaiian Electric and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light, serve 95% of the state’s 1.4 million residents on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Lanai and Molokai. At the end of 2017, the companies recorded 695 MW of cumulative installed solar, up 109 MW from 2016. According to Hawaiian Electric, the megawatts of solar added last year produce power equivalent to that used by about 32,000 homes.
The solar total includes 82,000 private rooftop solar systems connected or approved, up 3.6% from 2016. It also includes the addition of the 27.6 MW Waianae solar facility, which provides some of the state’s lowest-priced renewable energy.
According to Hawaiian Electric, private rooftop solar installations and approvals as a percentage of total customers rose or held steady in 2017. By the end of the year, 20% of residential customers at both Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric have rooftop solar installed or approved for installation, up from 19% at both companies in 2016. Sixteen percent of Hawaii Electric Light residential customers have solar installed or approved, the same percentage as in 2016.
“We ended 2017 with the largest year-to-year increase of installed solar since 2013, and we anticipate even higher numbers by the end of this year,” says Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of customer service. “We’re excited about new solar programs on the horizon such as Smart Export and CGS+, community-based renewable energy and new grid-scale projects underway on Oahu and Maui. And we continue to improve and streamline the rooftop solar application process for our customers.”
Cumulative Installed PV as of Dec. 31, 2017
Hawaiian Electric notes that since the launch of the online Customer Interconnection Tool last fall, customers have been able to submit online applications to install private rooftop solar under the Customer Self-Supply program. The online application tool is designed to help provide a seamless process allowing customers to follow the status of their applications from start to finish.
The Hawaiian Electric companies anticipate continued growth in private rooftop solar and utility-scale projects. On Oahu and Maui, 135 MW produced by six separate projects will come online this year, including Hawaiian Electric’s 20 MW solar facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. That project will produce the lowest-priced grid-scale solar in the state for the benefit of all Hawaiian Electric customers, according to the utility.
Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric: The 26.7 MW Waianae solar farm