Frequently Asked Questions
Energy conservation and efficiency are the best and cheapest way to save energy, reduce your electricity bills, and protect the environment. Take a look at your electricity use, then consider and apply measures to be more efficient while preserving comfort and convenience. By first reducing your energy use you may be able to reduce the size of a rooftop solar system and lower your up-front costs.
Efficiency options may include switching to CFLs or LEDs for lighting, installing a solar water heater, and replacing older, inefficient appliances with Energy Star® models. Conservation measures may include turning down the thermostat on electric water heaters, fixing leaking faucets, and discarding an older, second refrigerator or under-used freezer.
- Determine how much electricity you use at what time of day. Will your needs change, like due to getting an electric vehicle or having more people in your home? Research your solar options; will you own, lease or join community solar? A good place to start is: www.hawaiielectriclight.com/products-and-services/customer-renewable-programs. Also www.energy.gov/energysaver/energy-saver; eere.energy.gov; www.nrel.gov/workingwithus/learning.html
- Talk to family, neighbors and friends about their experiences and recommendations with adding rooftop solar.
- Consider which utility program works for you and look at your payment options. Visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com/products-and-services/customer-renewable-programs/private-rooftop-solar.
- Get bids from two or more solar contractors. This could involve home inspection/meeting or online options. You can consider the Hawaii Solar Energy Association which has a list of contractor members at www.hsea.org/membership/members. Or consider contractors which have the Expedited Validation Option (EVO), a pilot program on Oahu that allows contractors with a track record of submitting complete validation packets to fast-track the interconnection process. Visit www.hawaiianelectric.com/products-and-services/customer-renewable-programs/private-rooftop-solar/expedited-validation-option.
- Discuss with prospective contractors how to "right-size"; your rooftop system. If it is too large you are wasting money; if too small you will not get enough power for your home and remain more dependent on your utility.
- Pick a contractor and sign a contract. Your contractor will submit necessary applications to your utility and county permitting department, including using the Hawaiian Electric Companies' online CIT tool to track your application and project status at www.hawaiielectriclight.com/CITonline.
- Installation may include roofing and/or service upgrades as well as construction engineering/management, permitting, rooftop work and inspection.
- Your utility will install a new meter and may inspect the completed system.
Information on contractors specializing in distributed energy systems is available from various sources, including:
- The Hawaii Solar Energy Association has a list of contractors at www.hsea.org.
- Yellow pages under "solar" and "electric contractors" or on the web by searching for "solar contractors Hawaii."
- Newspaper ads
- Friends, relatives, and neighbors who have installed solar systems
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), www.nabcep.org
- State of Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing (PVL) search -This search is designed to help the public obtain basic information about businesses and individuals that hold professional and vocational licenses issued by the State of Hawaii, http://pvl.ehawaii.gov/pvlsearch/app
Consult your tax professional. For background information:
No. Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun to heat water directly for your use. Certain manufacturers incorporate PV panels in the design of a water heating system but these systems do not interconnect with the grid and therefore the distributed energy resources programs do not apply.
However, solar water heaters are still an excellent energy efficiency measure that can save you a lot on your electric bill. In addition, purchase of a solar water heater may be eligible for a rebate. For more information on rebates available for solar water heaters and other energy efficiency measures, contact Hawaii Energy at hawaiienergy.com or (877) 231-8222.
Consult your tax advisor as each customer's circumstances are different.
If you purchase property with installed rooftop solar, you must submit a new agreement indicating the newly registered owner. To start this process, please contact your utility. Please visit the link for more information:
If you rent property with installed rooftop solar, you do not need a new agreement. The agreement with the property owner is still in place.
- Customer Grid-Supply Plus (CGS Plus) systems must include grid support technology to manage grid reliability and allow the utility to remotely monitor system performance, technical compliance and, if necessary, control for grid stability. A 2nd production meter is needed for utility control. Please see details for a double-meter installation: www.hawaiielectriclight.com/products-and-services/customer-renewable-programs/private-rooftop-solar/customer-grid-supply-plus
- Smart Export customers with a renewable system and battery energy storage system have the option to export energy to the grid from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. Systems must include grid support technology to manage grid reliability and system performance.
- Customer Self-Supply (CSS) is intended only for private rooftop solar installations that are designed to not export any electricity to the grid. Customers are not compensated for any export of energy.
- Customer Grid-Supply (CGS) participants receive a PUC-approved credit for electricity sent to the grid and are billed at the retail rate for electricity they use from the grid. The program remains open until the installed capacity threshold has been reached.
The programs provide options for different kinds of customers. Please consult our website and your prospective contractors to help choose the best program to fit your needs.