Solar on Big Island, HI
The Island of Hawaii, also called the Big Island, is the largest of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined with an area of 4,028 square miles and is the largest island in the United States. Home to a resident population of about 176,000, the Big Island also has an average density of 6/km². Residents on the Big Island also pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country and are currently paying more for electricity than those living on Oahu or Maui. Those in Hawaiian Electric & Light Company (HELCO) territory on Big Island are currently paying $0.32/kWh! This is primarily because Hawaii imports almost all of its energy in the form of fossil fuels.
Fortunately, the Hawaii government has recognized this and is working to reduce the state’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and help Big Island residents lower their electric bills with Hawaii solar energy. To begin, under the Hawaii Global Warming Solutions Act, Hawaii aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and the state has set a goal of meeting 70% of Hawaii’s energy needs through clean energy sources by 2030. Accordingly, residents who install a solar water heater system can receive a one-time, $1,000 rebate from HELCO. For residents that want to install a full solar power system, Hawaii offers a state tax credit equal to 35% of project costs or $5,000 (whichever is less) for single family residences and a tax credit of 35% of project costs or $3,500 per unit (whichever is less) for multifamily residences. Hawaii also offers a feed-in-tariff which is essentially where your utility company has to pay you cash for the amount of energy your system produces above the amount you consume. HELCO is currently paying $0.218/kWh produced from solar panel systems that are less than or equal to 20 kW.