Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Hawaii Solar Industry Cheers PUC Ruling

Energy

Earthjustice

On Dec. 20, the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Hawaii (PUC) issued an order denying several proposals by Hawaii’s investor-owned utilities that would have raised barriers to homes and businesses installing renewable energy systems like rooftop solar. The ruling resolved a handful of disputed issues between Hawaii’s investor-owned utilities and renewable energy organizations over rules for connecting renewable systems to the electric grid. Earthjustice represented Hawaii Solar Energy Association (HSEA) in the case.
 
On Nov. 29, the PUC approved a settlement between the parties that adopted improved rules that should ease the way for more rooftop solar on the grid.
 
The remaining issues in dispute largely focused on a proposal that would have allowed the utilities to impose expensive remote monitoring and control equipment—known as SCADA, supervisory control and data acquisition—on systems as small as 20 kilowatts (kW) or less. This raised concerns because it would have given the utilities the ability to turn off even residential photovoltaic (PV) systems at their sole discretion. Solar advocates opposed the proposal because it would deter the installation of such systems, especially since more cost-effective options for tracking solar output are available.
 
The PUC ruled that the utilities did not show that their proposal was “just and reasonable,” citing the costs of SCADA equipment and the lack of support and guidelines for imposing the equipment on systems smaller than 250 kW. Instead, the PUC agreed with the renewable energy organizations that the equipment shall not be required for systems smaller than 250 kW.
 
“We’re pleased that the PUC upheld the existing framework, which supports the deployment of distributed PV systems and has helped make Hawaii the fastest growing solar market in the U.S.,” said Mark Duda, president of HSEA. “We hope such proactive policy making will continue.”
 
The PUC also rejected a proposal to grant the utilities authority to deny the interconnection of renewable systems for various vague reasons, including “unreasonable costs to ratepayers.” The PUC indicated that such barriers are inappropriate while reliability standards for the Hawaii grids are still being developed in a separate ongoing proceeding. The PUC also clarified that “unreasonable cost” is a rate issue that should be decided by the PUC rather than a technical issue that interconnection rules are intended to address.
 
“If we’re going to break our addiction to imported oil, we need to shift the focus from barriers and toward solutions,” said Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake. “We applaud the PUC’s ruling and hope we can continue this constructive path to a clean energy future in Hawaii.”

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less
African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less
People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of people congregate along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida on June 26, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP / Getty Images

By Melissa Hawkins

After sustained declines in the number of COVID-19 cases over recent months, restrictions are starting to ease across the United States. Numbers of new cases are falling or stable at low numbers in some states, but they are surging in many others. Overall, the U.S. is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of new cases a day, and by late June, had surpassed the peak rate of spread in early April.

Read More Show Less
A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig is located on farmland near Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 2012. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Climate advocates pointed to news Sunday that fracking giant Chesapeake Energy was filing for bankruptcy as further evidence that the fossil fuel industry's collapse is being hastened by the coronavirus pandemic and called for the government to stop propping up businesses in the field.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Youth participate in the Global Climate Strike in Providence, Rhode Island on September 20, 2019. Gabriel Civita Ramirez / CC by 2.0

By Neil King and Gabriel Borrud

Human beings all over the world agreed to strict limitations to their rights when governments made the decision to enter lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. Many have done it willingly on behalf of the collective. So why can't this same attitude be seen when tackling climate change?

Read More Show Less