For the eighth year, Maui Electric Company has been named one of the nation’s top utilities for connecting the most solar watts per customer to the grid, earning ninth place in the annual Top 10 list compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), formerly the Solar Electric Power Association. Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative is number seven on the list.
Maui Electric recorded 386 solar watts per customer with 2,149 systems as of December 31, 2015. Most others on the top ten list are appearing for the first or second time, indicating an upsurge in solar adoption across the mainland that utilities in Hawai‘i have experienced for 10 years.
Awards were announced yesterday at the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s Utility Solar Conference, this year held in Denver. The ninth annual survey includes figures from more than 300 utilities across the country on solar connected to the grid.
In 2015, 35.3 percent of the electricity used by Maui Electric customers came from renewable resources, including customer-sited private solar power, wind and hydroelectricity, making a significant contribution to the 23.2 percent renewable energy used by customers of all three Hawaiian Electric customers.
“We know our customers are very interested in increasing renewable energy in Maui County and reducing our use of imported oil,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric Company. “We continue to work to maximize use of Maui’s renewable resources and our updated Power Supply Improvement Plan maps the way to a 100 percent renewable, clean energy future by 2045.”
Maui Electric watts per customer should increase significantly when the utility begins buying electricity from two planned large solar projects: a 2.87 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic (PV) project near the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kīhei to be developed by Maui-based developer South Maui Renewable Resources, and Kuia Solar’s planned 2.87 MW PV project in Lahaina near Lahainaluna School. These projects are expected to offer solar power to Maui Electric’s grid at the low price of 11.06 cents per kilowatt hour.
“We saw record installations of solar in 2015 across the United States. Our Top 10 survey results detail the scale of this growth, and the active role an increasing number of utilities are playing in it,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA’s President and CEO. “Consumers want solar, and their interest is driving change and innovation at utilities nationwide. This growth is occurring not only in well-known solar markets such as California and Hawai‘i, but in unexpected pockets of solar activity, including Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia.”
The full Top 10 listings are available online at www.sepatop10.org.
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational nonprofit that facilitates the utility industry’s smart transition to a clean energy future. Through education, research and collaboration SEPA enables the integration and deployment of solar, demand response, other distributed energy resources, and supporting technologies onto the grid.