Hawaiian Electric reduces time it takes to get rooftop solar activated

Published on May 27, 2020 by Dave Kovaleski

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Working with the solar industry and regulators, Hawaiian Electric has been able to reduce the amount of time it takes to activate a new private rooftop solar system.

Company officials said it takes about two months less than it did previously to go from application to activation – about 50 percent less time than it did before.

Among the improvements, customer systems smaller than 25 kilowatts with proper activated protective equipment can now turn on as soon as the building permit closes. Also, when an application is conditionally approved, Hawaiian Electric will start the meter change process. Previously, it was changed after final approval. Further, contractors may now install a temporary second meter for new Customer Grid Supply+ customers instead of awaiting the permanent meter installation. In addition, the company is working on ways to expedite the process for rooftop solar customers who are upgrading their electricity connection.

“We’ll continue to look for ways to smooth and speed up the application process, in consultation with the PUC and solar contractors,” Lani Shinsato, Hawaiian Electric Customer Energy Resources co-director, said. “We’ll also review changes in six months to make sure they are effective in helping our customers go solar more easily and support the solar industry.”

Hawaiian Electric is asking solar contractors to help speed the process by starting early to get the necessary building permits. These changes go into effect immediately. The company is asking contractors and customers to be patient as these changes are made while adhering to safety protocols during the current crisis.

“We understand we all need time to get used to the ‘new normal,’ especially with regard to our online Customer Interconnection Tool, which has been upgraded but may not reflect these new processes,” Shinsato said. “As these processes mature and we get a feel for their permanence, we will update the online tool.”