Hawaiian Electric speeds up rooftop solar interconnections

Quick Connect will allow some new systems to be built and activated faster to save customers time and money

Release Date: 1/19/2021

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HONOLULU, Jan. 19, 2021 - Many customers installing new rooftop solar systems will get to see their electricity costs reduced faster under Quick Connect, a new Hawaiian Electric program that will accelerate the process for turning on new systems.

The innovative new program aims to support customers and Hawaii's solar industry during the COVID-19 economic downturn. For the next 12 months, customers on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii islands installing new systems on circuits where the new program is available will not need the standard approvals before activating their systems.

An approval process that typically takes several weeks or months for each step to be completed can now be handled after the system is built and turned on, substantially reducing the wait for many new solar customers. If successful, Quick Connect may be extended beyond one year.

To determine eligibility, customers can check hosting capacity for all circuits on all three islands on the locational value maps available at www.hawaiianelectric.com/lvm.

"We are committed to help our customers save money and help invigorate Hawaii's economy as we get through the pandemic and move aggressively to 100 percent renewable electricity," said Lani Shinsato, customer energy resources co-director at Hawaiian Electric.

"Quick Connect allows customers' solar systems to be installed first and approved later," she said. "This is a partnership with the solar industry in which they ensure system requirements are met so that the utility can maintain a safe and reliable grid for all."

Customers and contractors can find detailed specifications for eligibility at www.hawaiianelectric.com/quickconnect. Questions may be directed to connect@hawaiianelectric.com for Oahu; connectmauicounty@hawaiianelectric.com for Maui and connecthawaiiisland@hawaiianelectric.com for Hawaii Island.

New systems still must start by applying for a county building permit, conform to the PUC's Rule 14H and be no larger than 25 kilowatts in capacity, with other technical requirements.

Customers will need to have a new, advanced meter installed. However, the application to be reviewed by Hawaiian Electric may be submitted after the system is built and turned on.

The goal is to speed connections for customers and increase rooftop solar on those circuits with the most existing capacity while reducing administrative work for contractors and Hawaiian Electric. The Quick Connect option may be limited in the future as circuits fill up or if the new systems create unforeseen technical or operational problems.

Hawaii leads the nation in per capita use of rooftop solar, with over 20 percent of customers, including 36 percent of single-family homes on Oahu, with solar systems connected to island grids.

In the last decade, Hawaiian Electric has taken many innovative technical and administrative steps to overcome technical challenges associated with the surge in rooftop solar and is recognized as a national leader for this effort.