IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OUR FRIENDS IN THE SOLAR INDUSTRY
From HECO October 23, 2013
As you may know, a recent legislative briefing - which included presentations by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, PV Coalition, Hawai'i Solar Energy Association and Hawaiian Electric - focused on issues about interconnecting customer PV systems to the grid.
One key area of focus was solar customers caught in the transition when we announced on Sept. 6, 2013 interconnection procedures to bring O'ahu in line with practices on Maui, Hawai'i Island and Kaua'i. We previously made the decision to approve more than 200 customers' net energy metering applications, which were submitted to Hawaiian Electric before Sept. 6. We will work with the PV industry leadership to determine what's fair and safe in other cases.
At the briefing, there seemed to be consensus that safety is critical. On circuits that have high levels of PV but that don't have proper protection measures, excess energy can back-feed into the grid, putting our crews' safety at risk. Over voltage from extremely high levels of PV can damage customer electronics and utility equipment and cause a customer safety risk. And it can impact reliability - from flickers to outages.
We are asking for help from all of you to ensure safety.
Hawaiian Electric is getting reports of practices from some solar vendors that could result in serious safety hazards. For example:
• A solar vendor is telling prospective customers that it has a "special arrangement" with Hawaiian Electric to avoid studies and upgrades. (No such agreement does- or can- exist.)
• Some solar vendors are telling customers on high PV circuits to install and tum on their PV systems without approval to interconnect.
• It's been reported that at least one solar vendor has told customers in high PV areas that they can interconnect their system without participation in net metering as long as they sign a waiver agreeing to be liable for any potential Hawaiian Electric charges in the future.
Some media organizations are beginning to report on this activity. Practices like this put the safety of utility workers and customers at risk and harm the reputation of the solar industry. Your customers are our customers. Please help us to ensure they're fully informed about what may be involved for them to safely interconnect their PV systems to the grid.
Mahalo for your support.
Senior Vice President, Customer Service
Hawaiian Electric Company
LINK: PDF of Letter
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