Hawaii To Start Paying For Roof-Top Solar Electricity

PUC lets homeowners, businesses get paid for feeding the grid

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European homeowners, especially those in Germany and Spain, may be ahead of America when it comes to switching over to rooftop solar electric panels, but Hawaii is on its way to catching up.

That’s because the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission just this week ordered the biggest utility company in the islands to start paying homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar panels that are feeding electricity into the grid. This is good news for everyone.

Hawaii, though blessed with lots of sun and wind, still relies primarily on imported oil to run electrical generators. The utility tried to limit and stall the new program, claiming this rooftop electricity may be more than their overhead wires can handle. Its fears are overblown and cover up its reluctance to allow the people to control their own energy future, rather than rely on the utility as the only game in town.

The state PUC says the utility company has six weeks to rollout the program statewide. The PUC also says this is just a start, and they’ll take a fresh look at how the plan is working in two years. Earthjustice represented the fledging Hawaii Solar Energy Association in PUC proceedings, fighting to get this solar energy rewards system up and running.

John was Earthjustice’s Media Director and chief press wrangler from 2001 until 2013. He came to Earthjustice in 2001 to defend freshwaters and public land—and salmon.