August 23, 2014

Do utilities try to block solar power?

Yes.  The rapid growth in rooftop solar is catching utilities off-guard across the U.S. and many are fighting back against the trend due to the threat it poses to their bottom line. Quite simply, more customers installing their own rooftop solar panels means they’re producing more of their own electricity and buying less from their utility company.

"Since January 1, 2011, Hawaii’s three investor-owned utilities interconnected more than 250 MW of solar PV (almost two-thirds residential) to grids with aggregate peak loads around 1,500 MW. This boom ended five months ago when Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) abruptly stopped approving residential net metering (NEM) applications for most communities on the island of Oahu. HECO claimed the grid was over-saturated with solar and that further study and infrastructure upgrades were needed to restart the interconnection process. The sudden shift left thousands of consumers stranded in “solar limbo” and caused large-scale lay-offs."

We see below how installations peaked in late 2012 (when credits were cut for 2013),and fell after the Fall of 2013, when the local utility claimed that a large number of local circuits were overloaded, claimed that this overload created dangerous conditions for utility workers, and created a restrictive review system:  photo Hawaii-PVpermits12-14.jpg