Solar companies react to PUC order to HECO

Solar companies react to PUC order to HECO

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In September, 2013, Hawaiian Electric changed the rules for connecting photovoltaic systems. Since then, solar companies big and small have been hit hard.

"We have customers waiting, canceling, people getting laid off," Bonterra solar president Christian Adams said.

The criticism has come over HECO's slow review of PV installation proposals before systems can be installed. At RevoluSun, 200 customers have their installations pending

"People have been waiting literally six, seven, eight months in some cases," Colin Yost said.

On Tuesday, the Public Utilities Commission ordered HECO to create a more comprehensive strategy.

"Modernize the electric system, embrace cost-effective clean energy opportunities to stabilize and lower customer bills, improve interconnection of customer-sided PV, expand choices for customers to manage their energy use," PUC Director Hermina Morita said.

HECO was given 120 days to comply with the PUC's orders.

Adams isn't ready to celebrate.

"That's another four months, right? What do you tell customers?" he said.

Yost said solar companies and consumers need to watch the calendar and hold HECO accountable.

"I think it's incumbent upon all of Hawaii's public and consumers to watch this process and make sure that HECO is going to faithfully respond and really do what the PUC is asking," he said.

HECO has never said it would deny connecting PV owners to the grid. The hang up has been delay and whether consumers would have to pay more.

"If HECO really takes the PUC order to heart, maybe there'll be a substantial speeding up of that process," Yost said.

Solar companies are encouraged by the PUC's prompting and  cautiously optimistic.

"There's no long term planning in the residential solar industry right now," Adams said.

Follow Jim Mendoza:   

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved