Community-Based Renewable Energy (Community Solar)

TERMS
Electric company
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light will administer community solar on the islands they serve.
Subscriber organization
A company, organization or group of people who own, develop or operate a community solar project.
Subscriber
A residential or commercial electric customer who participates, by lease or purchase, in a community solar project and gets monthly bill credits to offset their electricity use.
Independent observer
A person reporting to the Public Utilities Commission who assures the program is administered and operated fairly and consistently with the Community-Based Renewable Energy tariff.

"Solar without a roof"

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are opening the first phase of the Community-Based Renewable Energy program for applications by qualified organizations that wish to build and operate a community solar facility.

As approved for implementation by the Public Utilities Commission, the program will provide the benefits of solar energy to residential and commercial customers without access to privately-owned rooftop solar, including many renters and apartment dwellers.

Initially, the Hawaiian Electric Companies will accept only applications from interested companies, organizations, developers, or groups that wish to become a subscriber organization and propose a community solar project. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to check the Companies' hosting capacity maps to determine whether their proposed site location is in an area where there will be minimal interconnection issues.

Under the rules established by the Public Utilities Commission, customers who want to participate will contract directly with subscriber organizations. This may occur only after subscriber organizations are approved and allocated capacity by the electric company. After that, residential and commercial electric customers will be able to join and participate in community solar on their island. Once a community solar project is complete and approved to send electricity to the grid, customers who participate (called "subscribers") will receive a credit on their monthly electric bill based on the output of the community solar project and their level of participation in the project.

Community-Based Renewable Energy – or community-solar – provides a way for participating subscribers without privately-owned rooftop solar to benefit from electricity generated by a renewable energy facility located in their utility service territory.

Only solar projects are eligible for the initial phase of 8 megawatts of capacity available statewide, equivalent to a small grid-scale array, as approved by the PUC.

Frequently Asked Questions


How will it work?

This table shows the capacity and credit rate of Phase 1 of community solar by island:

IslandCapacity (MW)Credit Rate ($/kWh)Technology
Oahu 5.0 0.15 Solar PV
Hawaii Island 1.0 0.15 Solar PV
Maui 1.0 0.165 Solar PV
Molokai 0.5 0.225 Solar PV
Lanai 0.5 0.26 Solar PV
Total 8.0    

A subscriber organization will apply to be qualified by the electric company on its island with a proposed project for part of the 8 megawatts of solar capacity available statewide in the first phase. After the subscriber organization application is accepted as complete, the proposed project must complete an electric company administered technical review. When the review is complete, the subscriber organization and electric company will sign a pre-approved, standard contract.

When a project is approved, customers of the utility where it is located who want to become subscribers will first contact the electric company to verify eligibility for community solar and their maximum participation level. With this information, interested customers can then get specific information and application terms from the subscriber organizations they are interested in. Approved subscriber organization projects will be listed on this site as they are approved. For those not already approved for eligibility, the subscriber organization will submit potential subscriber's names to the utility. The subscriber organization will be a subscriber's primary contact.

Once the solar project is complete, tested and approved to connect and transmit electricity to the utility grid, the subscriber organization will provide output data to the electric company. The electric company will apply community solar credits to the subscriber's electric bill each month based on the project's output and subscriber's participation level. The bill will show the total electricity the customer uses from the utility but payment due will reflect the eligible credit.

CBRE Process Diagram

Process Diagram for the CBRE Program

An independent observer, paid by the Hawaiian Electric Companies but reporting to the PUC, will monitor the CBRE program to ensure fairness and adherence to the rules of the program.

The electric companies will keep this website updated with the most recent general information available, including qualified subscriber organizations. Check back regularly if you are interested in the community solar program. Utility customers can also call 808-543-7474 from Oahu or 833-411-3603 from Maui, Molokai, Lanai or Hawaii Island.


How to become a subscriber organization

Before applying for capacity, potential subscriber organizations are strongly encouraged to check here to determine if there is available capacity to site your project. After checking for available hosting capacity, interested parties should download the application and email it to the appropriate company when complete. Subscriber organization applications received at or after 8 a.m. HST on July 11, 2018 will be accepted. For more information, potential subscriber organizations may call:

Download Application

The independent observer is authorized to waive the experience requirement for subscriber organization applicants proposing systems under 250 kW AC. Learn about how to request a waiver.

The second phase of Community-Based Renewable Energy, expected in about two years, will include other renewable technologies beyond solar. Special provisions will be made to enroll low-to-moderate income subscribers, though subscriber organizations may enlist such customers in the first phase.

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