Hawaii homes successfully rely on solar energy
A third of single-family homes in Hawaii are now powered by rooftop solar panels, and the shift to alternative energy is successfully lowering utility bills, the New York Times reports in “Hit hard by high energy costs, Hawaii looks to the sun.”
Solar panel usage in Hawaii is three times that of California, the NYT says, and could serve as a shining example for them and other US states of the potential of solar power.
Hawaii has worked with regulators and utilities over the past decade to make solar power viable on the island nation, but the need to move away from oil-generated electricity became urgent when it suddenly became prohibitively expensive at 34% at the start of the year Russian war in Ukraine. Then, when the US banned the import of Russian oil, on which Hawaii is heavily dependent, it became impractical.
Toddi Nakagawa, who lives in suburban Honolulu, faced monthly utility bills in excess of $500. Now, with 70 panels on her roof and three battery stacks, she only pays $26 a month for her energy.
Hawaii’s reliance on solar energy is largely due to its politicians, who got electric utilities to accept solar-powered electricity. Hawaii is also offering homeowners on Oahu and Honolulu up to $4,250 to install home batteries to store their solar energy. This reduces the total installation costs of the batteries by around a third.
“This is a good example of good policy alignment with utilities and regulators,” said Bryan White, senior analyst at research and advisory firm Wood Mackenzie.
Today, rooftop solar power provides 14% of the islands’ energy, up from 6% in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration.
“Dependence on oil is the wrong way to go,” said James Griffin, chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.
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