Grid Defection in Hawaii: Crisis or Opportunity?
While much of the nation is talking about attaining “grid parity”—the point at which electricity from an alternative power source costs ratepayers the same or less than power from the traditional electricity grid—Hawaii reached this threshold a few years ago with the help of state and federal tax credits. Currently, the Hawaiian Electric Company is proposing a residential customer charge of $55 per month, with another $16 added for solar PV customers, to cover its fixed costs. With solar module and battery prices steadily declining, do solar customers need to stay connected to the grid? At the Fourth Annual Hawaii Energy Summit, Jim Lazar provided four principles for protecting consumers and preventing “grid defection.” When designing electric rates, it’s critical that grid connection charges reflect actual costs, that customers only pay for the grid services they actually use, and only pay for the grid in proportion to how much they use it. In turn, customers delivering power to the grid should receive no more and no less than full and fair value.