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Hawaiian Electric to issue new rules for solar panels

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian Electric plans to issue new guidelines for installing residential solar systems in an effort to accommodate the high demand for electricity powered by the sun.

The utility’s new guidelines will allow more photovoltaic systems to be installed in Oahu neighborhoods already heavily populated with solar panels.

The new guidelines will update interconnection rules put in place last fall.

The revised rules are an attempt by the utility to open up the grid without compromising safety or reliability, said Scott Seu, Hawaiian Electric’s vice president for energy resources.

“We wanted to define some options — what we call technical-mitigation options — to address a situation on a neighborhood circuit when there is so much energy being generated at certain times of the day by PV systems that electricity is actually flowing backwards into the substation,” Seu testified at a hearing hosted by the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.

Power flows backward into a substation when there is more electricity being produced by rooftop photovoltaic systems in a particular neighborhood than the entire neighborhood is consuming.

Seu declined to discuss specifics of the new guidelines until they’re officially released.

When Hawaiian Electric issued guidelines in September, 54 of its 416 circuits on Oahu had PV generation at or above 100 percent of daytime minimum load. Since then, the number of circuits at or above the threshold has grown to 105.

Solar-energy industry officials have criticized the old guidelines as being unnecessarily restrictive and leading to a sharp slowdown in photovoltaic panel installations.


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