Hawaiian Electric has launched a new incentive that involves cash payments and bill credits for using photovoltaic panels that convert light into electricity and adding storage batteries to an existing or new rooftop solar system.
The electric company started the Battery Bonus program for Oahu customers last year, but it is now expanding it by adding a fixed bill credit for electricity exported to the grid during peak hours, according to a press release.
The monthly bill credit will be equivalent to the retail rate for exporting energy during a two-hour period during the evening peak. This bonus is available for three years.
The company is also adding a $5-per-kilowatt (kW) monthly peak capacity bill credit for a 10-year period, while the Battery Bonus program is in effect.
The program will still include a one-time payment to customers for each kW of installed battery capacity. However, it is capped at a total of 50 megawatts supplied from storage.
They will also be removing the 5-kW-per-customer size limit for solar systems, as long as the additional photovoltaic panels are not more than twice the battery size.
Hawaiian Electric said the Battery Bonus program is meant to help the state move toward its goal of 100% clean energy sources by 2045 and to add more renewable resources to the grid, as Hawaii prepares for the AES coal-fired plant to be shut down in September 2022.
Melissa Miyashiro, the Executive Director of Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit focused on clean energy, told Spectrum News Hawaii that the expanded incentive program will make solar power more accessible and affordable to more Hawaii residents, while also helping the utility adapt to the demands of a future electric grid powered fully by renewables. She agreed with Hawaiian Electric that the program will help the state reach its 100% renewable energy goal.
“While large-scale energy projects get the most attention, we can't lose sight that distributed energy resources like rooftop solar are also a critical piece of our 100% renewable grid,” said Miyashiro. “And paired with batteries, these systems can build resilience for residents as well as the utility tasked with managing the grid.”
Applications for the Battey Bonus program will be accepted now until June 20, 2023, or until the 50 megawatts cap is reached.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke covers the Hawaiian Islands for Spectrum News Hawaii.