FACT CHECK — HECO: 80 Percent of Circuits On Oahu Have Room for Solar

ProVision Solar

Tensions between Hawaiian Electric Co. and the solar industry may be at an all-time high.

Last month, HECO informed solar companies that customers in areas where there is already a high concentration of solar could have to pay more for studies and technology upgrades if they want to hook a solar system up to the utility's electric grid.

With solar sales soaring in recent years, the utility says it must move forward more cautiously to ensure that the increasing power intake doesn't cause power outages or surges that harm equipment or even workers.

But critics in the solar industry say HECO's new restrictions on solar are ruining a thriving market at the busiest time of year and leaving hundreds of solar customers in limbo.

Amid the solar squabbles, HECO vice president Scott Seu wrote in a Tuesday Community Voice that the utility has been working to provide more customers with access to solar while still ensuring safety and reliability.

And he suggests that the majority of Oahu customers aren't currently at risk of having to pay extra to have their system installed. After all, a majority of HECO's 416 circuits aren't at the solar tipping point.

"Although more than 80 percent of circuits on Oahu have room for more solar without the need for detailed safety and reliability studies, we've now reached the point on others where the levels of solar require our utilities and the solar companies to be more cautious," Seu writes.

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