Hawaii Public Utilities Commissioner Lorraine Akiba submitted an application to install a $10,000 photovoltaic system a week before the PUC issued an order that slashed the credit that customers can receive for electricity they produce from solar panels on their rooftops, records show.

The order capped Hawaiian Electric’s popular net energy metering program, which has been used by more than 50,000 residents on Oahu, Maui and Big Island. The order grandfathered in anyone who had already installed a PV system under the program or has applied to do so, but changed the rules for new customers.

Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chair Randy Iwase and Lorraine Akiba listen to public testimony earlier this month on Maui on the proposed NextEra Energy/Hawaiian Electric Industries merger.
Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chair Randy Iwase and member Lorraine Akiba listen to public testimony on Maui last month on the proposed NextEra Energy-Hawaiian Electric Industries merger. Nathan Eagle/Civil Beat

Starting Oct. 13, customers who want to take advantage of solar energy at home have three options: grid-supply, self-supply and time-of-use tariff.

The grid-supply option is similar to net energy metering, except it offers a significantly lower credit for the excess energy customers produce from their home PV systems and export to the grid.

Instead of the full retail rate of roughly 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, HECO customers will be credited 15.07 cents per kwh; Hawaii Electric and Light customers will get a rate of 15.14 cents per kwh; and Maui Electric Co. customers will get 17.16 cents per kwh on Maui, 24.07 cents per kwh on Molokai, and 27.88 cents per kwh on Lanai.

Akiba applied Oct. 6 with the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting to have Revolusun install a new PV system at a home in Nuuanu.

In 2010, she had a $23,000 solar system installed at the same address, city records show.

Akiba could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

About the Author