Hawaii to ‘democratise’ RE with community solar

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[quote] At the eighth annual Hawaii Clean Energy Day at the Laniakea YWCA, the governor, David Ige, said that community solar “will democratize renewable energy by allowing those who do not have access to rooftop real estate to be able to participate in the benefits of the clean-energy transformation.” [Community solar to boost US clean energy usage – report]

He added that he wanted to give all citizens in Hawaii the option of taking advantage of clean, solar energy, regardless of whether they have roof real estate or are renting.

The governor said that Hawaii’s energy community needs to band together in order to reach the state’s renewable-energy goals, now especially, following the regulator’s regulators rejection of the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc.

Ige said: “Now that the (Public Utilities Commission) has spoken on the NextEra merger, it is time for everyone to come together and recommit to our shared clean-energy future. Coming together, I think, is a good theme for the coming year.”

Strong solar future

Hawaii’s state utility Hawaiian Electric filed a plan for a community solar programme in October. Ige is of the opinion that the electrical utility should be centred around distributed generation such as rooftop solar and batteries; building community solar projects and closing a loophole in the state’s goal to have 100% renewable electric power by 2045. [Report: Hawaii’s path to 100% renewable energy by 2045]

Lynne Unemori, Hawaiian Electric’s vice president for corporate relations, said in an emailed statement: “It’s going to take a diversity of renewable resources and other technology to get to 100 percent renewable energy.

“An integrated plan that extends the benefits of clean energy to all customers is critical. That’s why community-based renewable programs that make it possible for renters, condo owners and others who don’t have a roof or prefer another option are so important.

“[Hawaiian Electric] wants to move forward with a community renewables pilot project to provide some initial implementation experience with these kinds of programmes,” said Unemori.

Ige concluded: “The business model of the traditional utility has to be different. It just cannot be the same. … The 21st-century model is more customer-centered with distributed local solutions all across the state.”