Though Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) has been called many things, progressive isn’t usually one of them. But Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake is commending the utility for its willingness to explore ways of accommodating more rooftop solar systems.
HECO has agreed to take the initiative in determining how the grid needs to be upgraded to enable further expansion of rooftop solar systems. HECO will independently track and plan for rooftop solar growth so that when a customer asks to hook up a system, the utility can be ready.
“In a nutshell, HECO will plan for the ongoing rooftop solar movement, rather than reacting to it,” Moriwake wrote in an email to the Weekly. “This subtle but fundamental shift is path-breaking for the nation. Utilities conventionally treat rooftop solar as a nuisance or a threat. HECO has committed to move past this stick-in-the-mud mindset and meet the future with rooftop solar.”
HECO also will be moving toward allowing more renewable energy to be fed into local circuits. It raised the limit to 75 percent of minimum load last November, and will be increasing that to 100 percent in coming months.
The proactive strategy was developed during meetings of the Reliability Standards Working Group (RSWG), a consortium of utilities, state agencies and clean energy groups that was convened by the Public Utilities Commission, at HECO’s request, in September 2011. The group, whose members included Moriwake, completed its deliberations in late January.