Home Improvement

Installing Solar in Hawaii

As a Realtor, I had heard so many different stories regarding installing a residential photovoltaic system. Were there still tax credits available or not? Was Hawaii Electric Light still accepting new connection requests or not? How long would I have to live to have the system actually pay for itself? This confusion led me to a display table that ProVision Solar had set up at a local Realtors’ event. I basically walked up and asked, “So what’s the real deal on installing solar now?”

I was pleased to find out that I could still submit an application to Hawaii Electric. A decision would be made after the first of the year regarding how many new residential photovoltaic customers would be allowed. So I filled out a request for an application right then and there and was very happy to find out that the processing fee was being waved during the Realtors’ event that day. Lucky me!

ProVision sent me the Hawaii Electric Light Application form and asked for pictures of my existing meter. Once I filled out the form and signed it, the solar company took care of submitting it to the right department at the electric company. I understood that once that was done, we would have to wait several months to find out whether my “interconnection request” would be approved or not. Approval was based on the availability of capacity on the customer grid supply.

Several months later, I was notified by Hawaii Electric that more capacity had become available and my request was now in the review process. It was time to start looking at my current electrical usage and the available photovoltaic systems.  I sent my last two electric bills to ProVision to give them the information they needed to come up with several different proposals. It took me several weeks to pour over the information and to talk to other people that had installed these systems. Personally, I knew my usage was higher in the summer time and I wanted to make sure that we had an accurate picture of my electrical needs. I also wanted the solar company to come and inspect my roof.  Could my existing roof framing handle the extra weight of the solar panels?

Permits need to be pulled for photovoltaic systems and here on the Big Island, permits can take awhile, so make sure your solar company will do the permits for you. I also checked on what happens if I need to replace my roof. My solar company will come out and remove the panels one day and put them back the next day for no extra charge. These are details that you definitely don’t want to miss when working with a solar company.

Installation Day!

Ten months after walking up to the display on residential photovoltaic systems, my own solar installation day was finally here! I felt extremely lucky that I had gone ahead and started asking questions about installing solar when I did. Now I was ready to watch the installation and enjoy my new photovoltaic system soon!

Installing the photovoltaic system took two days. The first day the brackets and racking were installed, along with all the necessary electrical connections and inverter at the meter box. The second day the panels were installed and the rest of the work was done on the inverter, power shut off and metering box. My system was ready to go! ProVision called the County of Hawaii to request the Building and Electrical inspections. They also warned me it could take weeks or a month for that to happen.

Luckily both inspections were done within a week and I was able to turn on my system in no time! I am also very happy to report that the Federal Tax Credit for my system is 30% of the total cost and the State of Hawaii tax credit is the same or $5000.00, whichever is less. So with these tax credits and the monthly savings, I plan to have with my new solar system, I believe I will, in fact, live long enough to see the system pay for itself. That’s my goal anyway!

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Heidi White

December 3, 2017

Thanks for the information Teri! I have been thinking about solar myself!

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