Hawaiian Electric battery cash incentive goes live


On the island of Oahu where electricity prices are among the highest in the country, a new battery incentive program offered by Hawaiian Electric (HECO) has gone live.

The program pays cash upfront to residential and commercial customers who attach battery energy storage to their existing or new rooftop solar systems.

Participating customers must use or export power during two peak hours, determined by HECO, through Dec. 31, 2023. Expected use/export times will cover two hours, somewhere between 6:00 PM and 8:30 PM, a time period when demand is at its highest and solar production begins to wane.

(Read “Energy storage aggregation unlocks benefits for homeowners, grid operators, and installers”)

The program is capped by the Public Utilities Commission to a total of 50 MW supplied from storage among all participants. Applications will be accepted until June 2023, or until the cap is hit.

Payments are in a tiered structure and are scheduled as follows: $850 per kW for the first 15 MW, $750 per kW for the middle 15 MW, and $500 per kW for the last 20MW.

For example, a 5 kW battery would earn an upfront payment of $4,250. There is no size limit to an individual customer looking to take advantage of this program.

“This is great news for solar customers in HECO, who already feel the pain of some of the highest energy bills in the country,” said Brian Donoho, senior consultant at solar and storage installer Sunrun. Because net metering has been done away with in the state, battery storage “was already a no-brainer to maximize the value of your solar, and to back up your home during outages,” he said. The incentive program now means “the value of solar-plus-storage couldn’t be clearer.” 

AES is retiring a coal-fired power plant in 2022, and demand on the grid will continue to rise as Hawaii sees its population continue to grow. These forces often lead to an increase in energy prices, so locking in a secure price for electricity through solar and storage will be appealing to many.

Many installers offer no-upfront cost solutions to those who cannot afford to buy solar. Typically, under a leased program, the installer will take in the upfront cash incentive themselves. Customers benefit from a reduced per kWh electricity rate.

The Hawaiian Electric program is available to both new and existing solar customers. Retrofitting batteries had been a challenge for installers in the past, but it has become a more widely adopted practice now. 

“This one-time offer is an excellent opportunity for new or existing solar customers to enjoy the added benefits of home energy storage, support the grid that serves all customers, and move us closer to our 100% clean energy for electricity goal by 2045,” said Yoh Kawanami, Hawaiian Electric co-director of Customer Energy Resources.

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