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Distributed Energy Resources FAQ
What is Daytime Minimum Load (DML)?
When discussing electricity, "load" refers to the amount of electricity used by a customer.
Load varies throughout the day. In Hawaii, peak demand typically occurs between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. when most people arrive home from work, turn on the TV, start laundry, cook dinner, etc.
Daytime minimum load (DML) is lowest amount of electricity used during the day. This typically occurs during the middle of the day, when residential customers are out of the house and their homes are using little electricity. This coincides with the period of time when PV systems are operating at their peak, during midday when the sun is high. This can result in having an excess of available PV energy.
The total amount of distributed energy resource on a circuit can be calculated as a percentage of the DML. In circuits with a generation-to-DML ratio over 250% extra care must be taken to ensure safe, reliable interconnection of distributed energy resources systems. This may require advanced equipment specified by the utility.
Visit the Locational Value Map, or LVM, on our website to find out the generation-to-DML percentage on your neighborhood circuit.
Why did the PUC close NEM?
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved these new rooftop PV programs to support the continued growth of rooftop PV and ensure safe, reliable service and fair treatment for all customers. The decision is the result of the PUC's effort to develop long-term technical and policy solutions that will support the continued growth of rooftop PV in Hawaii.
The PUC also directed that these new options will replace the NEM program. Customers with a current NEM agreement and those with valid pending applications hand delivered or postmarked on or before October 13, 2015 will continue under the NEM program
Can I still apply for Net Energy Metering (NEM)?
No. The PUC has declared that the NEM program is fully subscribed and closed to new customers on October 12, 2015. Customers with a current NEM agreement and those with valid pending NEM applications hand delivered or postmarked on or before October 13, 2015 will continue under the NEM program.
Any application that was hand delivered or postmarked after October 13, 2015 will need to be converted to another program.
How does a high DML potentially cause reliability problems?
Many distribution circuits have Distributed Energy Resource systems that generate more electricity than customers use, which can result in power flowing in reverse back into the grid. This can result in high voltage conditions that may damage a customer's home, your electronics or appliances, or even your neighbors' electrical equipment. In addition, the power produced by wind or PV systems fluctuates with changes in the wind, cloud cover, time of day, and weather conditions. These rapid fluctuations in power can damage utility equipment designed to regulate voltage levels on a circuit.
What is the difference between Customer Self-Supply (CSS) and Customer Grid-Supply (CGS)?
CSS is intended only for solar PV installations that are designed to not export any electricity to the grid. Customers are not compensated for any export of energy.
CGS customers receive a PUC-approved credit for electricity sent to the grid and are billed at the retail rate for electricity they use from the grid.
Is one program better than another?
The programs are designed to provide options for different kinds of customers. Therefore, one program is not necessarily better than another; it simply depends on what suits your particular situation. Please consult our website to help you choose the best program to fit your needs.
Is there a cost to apply for either CGS or CSS?
No, there are no application or processing fees.
Will I be taxed on the credits I receive for the energy that I produce?
This is a question that your tax advisor should answer for you. Each customer's circumstances may be different and it is not appropriate for the company to render tax advice.
However, it should be noted that the CGS program provides customers credits for excess energy produced by their PV systems in the same manner as the legacy NEM program.
The CSS and SIA programs do not provide credit for exported electricity.
Schedule Q is the only Distributed Energy Resource program that pays money at a fixed tariff based on avoided cost (avoided cost is currently updated monthly. For example, the rate is 11.69 cents/kilowatt-hour for 9/2015) for electricity sent to the grid.
Customers are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax advisor or legal counsel since the facts and circumstances for the various programs differ and could affect taxability.
Can I switch between CSS and CGS?
No. It is important that the selection of the appropriate program is made at the beginning of the process. If an Applicant desires to switch programs after the application has been approved, the Applicant will need to re-apply to the appropriate program and establish a new position in the Distributed Energy Resource Queue.
What is the Distributed Energy Resource queue?
First Come, First Served
The Hawaiian Electric Companies' Distributed Energy Resource programs are available to all customers on a first come, first served basis.
The Distributed Energy Resource Queue
The Distributed Energy Resource Queue reserves capacity for your Distributed Energy Resource system on the circuit that serves your location. Placement in the queue occurs once your submitted application has passed the initial completeness review.
Your Project Completion Time Frame
After your application has been Conditionally Approved, to be fair to other customers who may be waiting to apply on circuits that already have a high amount of installed distributed generation, the Hawaiian Electric Companies' policy is that you must finish your project within an 12-month time frame for systems under 10 kW and 18-month time frame for systems >10kW. The time frame for completion begins from the date of your Conditional Approval. A one-time extension of 180 days may be requested in writing, but this must be sent during the last two months before your designated time frame expires. If you exceed all deadlines, your application will be cancelled and your reserved circuit capacity forfeited. You would then need to reapply and start at the beginning of the process.
*Please be aware that the application processes, including the queuing process, are subject to change without notice
What if I already submitted an application and want to add capacity or change parts of my Distributed Energy Resource system?
When the PUC created the CGS and CSS programs, it determined that if an existing NEM customer adds more capacity to their PV system, they would need to transition to another program, such as CGS, CSS, or SIA.
How does my credit show on my bill?
For CGS customers, your energy credits will appear as a separate line item.
How do I read my meter?
Hawaiian Electric Companies read customer meters once a month in order to generate your bill.
For a CGS customer, your meter is a bi-directional meter and tracks the amount of electricity passing back and forth between the utility and you. For CGS customers, on your monthly bill, if more electricity was produced than consumed while your system was producing, you will receive a credit for the overage per the approved PUC tariff rate on your account. You will be billed for all electricity delivered to you at your current schedule rate.
For other Distributed Energy Resource Interconnection programs, since back feeding excess electricity into the grid is either not allowed or not recommended the meter will simply show a reduction in the electricity received from the utility.
How do I read a bidirectional meter?
A bidirectional meter records electricity moving both to and from your property and keeps track of energy delivered and received measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh.
The kWh amounts displayed on your meter are cumulative and do not reset each month. For customers with demand meters, the demand or kW amount is reset at the end of each month's billing cycle.
How much electricity am I actually using?
Because your CGS bidirectional meter only tracks the excess electricity you generate but don't consume, figuring out how much electricity you actually use each month takes a little bit of math.
Calculate Your System's Total Monthly Production
If you receive production reports from your inverters, tally up how many kilowatt-hours your system produced during the service period for the month you are researching. You'll find these dates under Service Period in the Account Summary section of your bill.
Add Your Total Production to the NET Amount on Your Bill
The NET amount on your bill is the difference between your excess electricity production and the extra supplied to you, when needed, by the utility. Of course, if you are a CSS or a SIA customer, you will have used all your system's production; none of it should have gone to the utility.
Now You Have Your Actual Electricity Usage
Comparing the total system production of your PV system to the NET amount on your bill reveals your actual electricity usage. As PV system production varies with season and weather, its total generation will also vary from month to month. Doing this calculation will most likely show moderate variations in your month-to-month electricity usage, just as there was before you had a PV system.
Doing this regularly will alert you if there are any dramatic changes in electricity usage, which would be difficult to detect if you only relied on your bills.