Hawaii electric utilities are winning a war against solar energy thanks to the collusion with state public officials. Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) are acting as if they own the solar energy. In our case, they are literally and brazenly stealing our surplus electricity which we are forced to feed into their grid by the PUC rules.
Check out this chart of our solar system performance in the last 12 months. In 10 of those 12 months we have been producing more electrical energy than we needed. Which MECO, Maui Electric Company, simply siphoned off and sold to its other customers at retail rates and without any compensation to us.
Worse, MECO has the gall to charge us $18 per month for their meter. Which we were forced to use by the warped Hawaiian PUC rule and laws which favor corporations over taxpayers. And we also have to suffer regular MECO power outages despite the fact that we could be 100% self-sufficient but for the government rules.
This writer has written several articles about it in the last two years, and has also corresponded with the Hawaii Governor’s office and the MECO CEO and PUC officials asking them to change the rules (see Hawaii PUC Mistreats Solar Producers (“Post Nubilla, Phoebus, Dec 2012) and Hawaii Governor Responds Six Months Later).
Government/Corporate Collusion Leads to Gouging of Customers/Taxpayers
Indeed, they did change the rules in September 2013. For the WORSE! Now the Hawaiian utilities are playing the game of delaying their approval of new installations, alleging that the solar energy is overburdening their grid (see Solar Customers Get Burned In Hawaii, Oct 2013).
Which is complete nonsense, of course, when you think about it. Let’s just apply common sense.
As a result of the recent solar energy boom, the electric utilities should have experienced a BIG DROP in customer demand for their “dirty” (fossil fuel-based) electricity. The electricity solar customers are generating does not necessarily represent new and additional demand. It is simply replacing the dirty electricity with clean, renewable energy.
In fact, the solar energy is helping actually REDUCE the demand for dirty electricity the Hawaiian utilities are generating – at a cost which is already three times the national average (see Greed Casts Doubt over Renewable Energy, May 2012).
So you would think that there would be cheers all around. Well, think again. Reducing the demand for dirty electricity would mean the utility would have to get more efficient and REDUCE its FIXED costs in order to maintain profit margins. Which is probably why the Hawaiian utility announced this year that it wants to operate its own solar farm.
“The power company sometimes seems like the greatest obstacle to innovation” (Huffington Post)
Yet the state government and the PUC have swallowed this HECO/MECO hogwash hook, line and sinker. They have allowed the Hawaiian utility’s war on clean energy to continue and escalate. Which is a giant step BACK.
What is happening in this sunny state is a perfect example of collusion and confluence of corporate and government interests at the expense of the taxpayers who are trying to help Mother Earth recover from the abuses the industrial eras has heaped on her in the last two centuries.
Instead, these public officials are helping inefficient polluters gouge their customers while fighting solar energy competitors. And this travesty is working…
Hawaii Solar Sales Decline for the First Time
While solar sales are going through the roof in most mainland states (see California More Than Doubles Solar Energy in 2013), here in Hawaii solar installations declined for the first time last year. Residential sales are down nine percent compared to 2012, while commercial sales have plummeted by 50 percent, according to statistics from Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Here’s what Huffington Post wrote about it:
“Now solar companies find themselves competing in a shrinking market as they wrestle with the limitations of a public utility that owns the power grids on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County. The power company sometimes seems like the greatest obstacle to innovation, because the electric company can only accommodate so much intermittent solar power on their grids before engineers fear that too much of the energy will cause power disruptions and put utility workers’ safety at risk.”
So the “Empire Strikes Back.” The dark forces, the Darth Vader’s, of the government/corporate world are winning. Where are you Luke Skywalker when we need you?
What’s To Be Done?
Get the Feds involved? (God forbid!)
Get off the planet? (Maybe a little too extreme. For now).
Get off the grid? (Now you’re talking…)
The way this writer sees it, the ultimate solution to this government/corporate collusion and coercion of solar customers is for us to get a battery that’s sufficiently powerful and economical enough to store the surplus electricity we produce. So we could reuse it when we needed it later on.
Of course, this may lead to the Governor and MECO CEO sending the National Guard to arrest us for trying to bypass their monopoly. But if enough of us solar producers did that at the same time, perhaps the Governor won’t have enough troops of cojones to use against us?
Meanwhile, let us keeping weaving a network of solar energy producers so we can all band together when such a time comes. We can all be Luke Skywalkers on our own rooftops. The war of governmental and corporate Darth Vaders against Mother Earth is far from over.
Of course, if all else fails, we can always go back to windmills… 🙂
Nah… just kidding. Too windy in there. 🙂
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HONOLULU, June 26, 2014 – Check out my comment at the end of this story…