PUC increases limits for renewable energy
The move is expected to increase the excess energy fed back into the grid by customers
Residents and businesses with electrical generators powered by renewable sources, such as solar or wind energy, will be allowed to generate more power under a recent ruling by the Public Utilities Commission.
The ruling doubles the limit on net energy metering generators to 100 kilowatts for customers on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Current limits of 50 kilowatts remain for Kauai.
Net energy metering enables customers with renewable generating units to be connected to the power utility grid. When renewable generators produce more power than a customer needs, that electricity can then be fed back to the grid. Customers are credited when the surplus is fed back, reducing their overall electric bill.
Under the law, the PUC has the discretion to set the limits on net energy metering generators.
"By increasing the limits on net energy metering generators, the PUC has supported an important part of the state's energy policy of promoting clean, renewable energy and reducing the state's dependence on imported fossil fuels," PUC Chairman Carlito Caliboso said in a news release.
The PUC also increased caps on the total amount of power that renewable system generators may produce, doubling it to 1 percent of each electrical utility's system peak demand. The increase means more generators will be allowed to participate in the program.
As of the end of 2007, Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island had a total of 339 renewable energy installations that were part of the Net Energy Metering program, Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman Peter Rosegg said.
Maui had the most with 148, followed by Oahu (96) and the Big Island (95). HECO did not have information on Kauai units. So far in 2008, 20 new installations have been approved with 120 supplications pending.
"The Hawaiian Electric companies welcome the Public Utilities Commission decision to open Net Energy Metering to more and larger systems to encourage more individual distributed renewable energy projects in Hawaii," Rosegg said in an e-mail to the Star-Bulletin. "With the new caps, there's plenty of room for additional renewable systems on all islands we serve."