Regulators approve community solar plans

More customers will be able to participate in clean energy movement

Release Date: 7/3/2018

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HONOLULU, July 3, 2018 - The Hawaiian Electric Companies are preparing to open the first phase of the Community-Based Renewable Energy (CBRE) program next week for applications by qualified subscriber organizations that wish to build and operate a community solar facility.

As approved for implementation by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), 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.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies will begin accepting applications on July 11 only from any qualified company, organization, developer, or group to become a subscriber organization and propose a solar project.

Once subscriber organizations are approved, electric customers - residential and commercial - will be able to join the subscriber organizations and participate in community solar on their island. Subscribers will receive a credit on their electric bill, based on the output of the project and their level of financial participation.

As first proposed by Hawaiian Electric in 2015, CBRE is envisioned to expand the state's renewable energy transformation, benefit individual customers and put more solar energy to work, reducing the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation.

"One of our principles is that this energy transformation leaves no one behind," said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president of business development and strategic planning. "We believe this program can give many more people the chance to benefit from the availability of solar and participate in the clean energy movement."

The first phase of CBRE aims to bring online a total of 8 megawatts of solar, equivalent to a small grid-scale array, in the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light service territories.

Information about eligibility and applications for subscriber organizations will be available at hawaiianelectric.com/communitysolar; mauielectric.com/communitysolar; hawaiielectriclight.com/communitysolar. For more information, potential subscriber organizations may call 808.543.7253 from Oahu, 808.969.0358 from Hawaii Island, 808.871.8461, ext. 2445 from Maui, and 877.871.8461, ext. 2445 from Lanai and Molokai.

Although customers may not sign up for community solar until a subscriber organization is approved for their island, general information and answers to many common questions are available at hawaiianelectric.com/communitysolar; mauielectric.com/communitysolar; hawaiielectriclight.com/communitysolar. The companies will update these sites with the most recent and complete information. Utility customers can also call 808.543.7474 from Oahu or 833.411.3603 from Maui, Molokai, Lanai or Hawaii Island.

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 second phase of CBRE, expected in about two years, will include other renewable energy 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.