How to Profitably go Solar in 2017: Tips from Hawaii

| 12/20/2016 6:10:00 PM

Tags: solar power, home energy, electric utilities, Eric Hill, Hawaii,


What comes to mind when you think about Hawaii? It’s likely a combination of ocean waves, palm trees, blue skies and sun. If your mind also moves in the direction of abundant solar energy, you wouldn’t be wrong. Hawaii’s climate and location makes the island a perfect place to collect and apply solar energy. Given this environment, plus high costs of electricity generated by imported fuels facing all island communities — which soar to rates of up to 37.6 cents per kWh — it’s clear why individuals in Hawaii are highly interested in alternative energy options. It’s something literally and figuratively in their nature — Hawaiians share an ethic of independence, one that extends to not being dependent on the grid.

However, in order to reduce fossil fuel reliance and gain energy independence, consumers in the Hawaiian market need to adhere to utility regulations in order to ensure alternative energy use remains profitable. Below are three tips solar users around the world can take from Hawaii’s push to profitably leverage solar energy.

Know the Regulations — and Restrictions — Surrounding Alternative Energy in Your Area

Last year, the Hawaiian Electric Company eliminated net energy metering (NEM) and pushed to instill an interconnection policy that would create certain roadblocks on the journey to grid-connected solar energy. As a result, solar energy risked appearing to be more trouble than it was worth for new investors, despite Hawaii leading the nation for solar penetration rates. In any location, it’s critical for solar users to remain aware of local legislation surrounding alternative energy use, as well as any solutions that can help overcome obstacles.

For example, intelligent inverters and energy storage can help Hawaiian residents — and others around the globe in similar situations — to increase solar power value, avoid the grid’s common problems and reap the benefits of self-generation. Since certain batteries no longer require frequent maintenance or replacement, users can store solar energy during peak hours and apply that power after the sun goes down. With this in mind, the recent HECO changes have resulted in encouraging electricity consumers to consider adding energy storage to realize the best economic payback for their solar investment.

Utility Companies and Consumers Should be Ready to Adapt

When choosing alternative energy sources, consumers are first and foremost interested in reliable, consistent power at economic prices. This intersects with a utility company’s perspective, which sees the entire industry’s delivery dynamics changing.

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