Business Report 3/9/15: Solar power and electric companies

Business Report 3/9/15: Solar power and electric companies

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A smoking gun surfaced over the weekend that seems to show electric companies trying to block out the sun as a source of electricity.

Power companies say they welcome solar power, they just want to keep the grid safe. But sometimes it has seemed like the real objective was to stall solar panel installations.

Now evidence has surfaced which shows the power industry sees solar as the enemy, not the future. The evidence is a presentation to an industry retreat two and a half years ago in the Colorado Rockies. The Energy & Policy Institute got a copy, and gave it to the Washington Post.

The Edison Institute presentation portrays solar as a threat to the survival of electric utilities. It calls for focused outreach to legislatures and regulators - and that campaign exists.

Bills to make net metering illegal or costly have been introduced in nearly two dozen states. Arizona just got monthly surcharges for solar customers. Wisconsin got them last year.

Now - this is a national story - but how does Hawaiian Electric fit in? Hawaiian Electric has had an internal struggle for years over third-party power providers.But in recent weeks has resumed taking solar connections.

Since HECO has several times more solar connections than mainland power companies, an outside observer might reasonably assume its concerns are realer.

HECO also says, whatever the situation is on the mainland, it does not think more solar will hurt its profits.

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