Solar homeowners in O’ahu can receive large cash incentives for a new battery if the utility can use it
July 20, 2021 at 15:15 PM EDT
Hawaiian Electric will pay a cash incentive for customers on Oahu to add energy storage (a battery) to an existing or new rooftop solar system.
A new program in Hawaii will use battery energy storage to help firm the grid after a coal plant is retired in September 2022.
Hawaiian Electric said this week that it is now accepting applications for Battery Bonus, a new program that will pay a cash incentive for residential and commercial customers on O‘ahu to add energy storage (a battery) to an existing or new rooftop solar system.
The incentive will help move Hawai‘i toward its goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 and add more renewable resources to the grid in the short-term when the AES coal-fired plant is retired in September 2022.
The program is capped by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at a total 50 megawatts (MW) supplied from storage among all participants. Incentive payments are:
Applications will be accepted through June 23, 2023, or until the cap is reached.
Homeowners and businesses with an existing solar system enrolled in a customer energy program (such as Net Energy Metering, Customer Grid Supply or others) will continue to receive full benefits from these programs. Up to 5 kW of new panels may be added under existing programs. There is no limit on the size of an individual customer’s battery.
The total program term is 10 years. Customers who participate must use and/or export electricity stored in the battery at the contracted amount on a firm two-hour schedule specified by Hawaiian Electric between 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily (including weekends and holidays) through December 31, 2023. (Example of two-hour period: 6:05 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.) After that date, customers will have the option to transition to the program’s next phase to be defined by the PUC for the rest of the 10-year term.
“This one-time offer is an excellent opportunity for new or existing solar customers to enjoy the added benefits of home energy storage, support the grid that serves all customers and move us closer to our 100% clean energy for electricity goal by 2045,” said Yoh Kawanami, Hawaiian Electric co-director of Customer Energy Resources.
Customers must work with a solar contractor to add storage to an existing system or install a new solar-plus-storage system. Contractors will be able to help fill out forms and submit them to Hawaiian Electric. Contractors may also take advantage of Quick Connect, an existing “pre- approval” program that allows customers who meet certain requirements to install and energize their systems first and send Hawaiian Electric information on their system later.
Securing a building permit from the City & County Department of Planning and Permitting or proof of permit application is required as part of the submission and will determine the final incentive amount.
The solar-plus-storage system owner will receive the incentive. That can be the residential or commercial customer owning the system or a company leasing the system to the homeowner or business. Customers may end participation before the 10-year commitment by notifying Hawaiian Electric and repaying a prorated portion of the incentive.
The incentive payment is considered income. Hawaiian Electric will provide participants with tax forms and report information to the IRS and Hawaiʻi Department of Taxation.
Hawaiian Electric expects the Battery Bonus program to accelerate renewable energy on Oahu and is encouraging customers to apply.