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September 26, 2018

Community solar off to a promising start in Hawaii, but concerns remain

Categories: Energy

Published in Pacific Business News on September 26, 2018

Hawaii residents may soon be able to take advantage of the first community solar projects in the state, but concerns about its successful implementation remain, according to various energy stakeholders.

The first phase of the community-based renewable energy program, or CBRE, launched in July.

Just 10 days after opening the application period, Hawaiian Electric announced that the submitted project proposals already exceed the program capacities on Oahu and the Big Island.

"It was just critical to get this first phase going," Scott Seu, senior vice president of public affairs at Hawaiian Electric, said during a recent energy roundtable at the PBN newsroom. "We will learn from this first phase. We will be able to adjust if needed and tweak the program. I think that’s really the spirit of how we have to do a lot of things here in Hawaii, we can’t always hit it perfect the first time."

Ahead of the program launch stakeholders voiced their concern about the program's structure, limited initial program capacity and high fees.

The subscriber organizations for the program's first phase have yet to be officially confirmed, but the strong response from project developers may have proved many doubters wrong.

"The first phase is oversubscribed, which is great news," said Kyle Datta, general partner at Ulupono Inititive. "I think we all have every expectation that it will be underway and fully executed by the end of the year in terms of getting all the contracts down and starting construction."

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