Community-based Renewable Energy
A community-based renewable energy program allows electric utility customers to purchase shares in a renewable energy facility and receive bill credits for energy production. Thus far in Hawaii, distributed renewable energy systems, such as PV systems, have only been available to those who can afford the significant upfront cash payment required for system installation. A community-based renewable energy program provides an alternate means of investing in renewable energy to individuals and groups, like schools or community organizations, who may be otherwise precluded from installing their own systems.
On June 8, 2015, Governor David Ige signed into law Act 100, which requires Hawaii’s electric utilities to create a tariff by October 1, 2015 to enable customers to join community renewable programs. You can read the text of Act 100 here.
Hawaiian Electric recently proposed a small-scale community solar pilot program that is currently under review by the Public Utilities Commission. If approved, the pilot program could be in place as early as September of 2015. You read about the pilot program here.
The U.S. Department of Energy has published useful resources related to community-based renewable energy:
- A Guide to Community Solar: Utility, Private, and Non-profit Project Development, May 2012.
- Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation, April 2015.
Clean Energy Collective recently released a short animation on community-based solar projects. View their video here: