We Have a Responsibility to Protect Our Island Environment
If you are thinking about having a photovoltaic (PV) system installed on your roof, you may want to consider visiting our Locational Value Maps (LVM) for Hawaii County. The LVM is a tool that can give you a rough, preliminary idea about the PV circuit penetration in your area. Please note that the LVM circuit penetration levels change rapidly day by day, and that a completed NEM agreement with any additional required paperwork must first be submitted before your system can be placed in queue for review. View Locational Value Majps.
Net Energy Metering(or NEM) is one way to lessen Hawaii's dependence on imported oil by encouraging the greater use of eligible renewable energy sources like solar (photovoltaic, PV), wind, biomass, or hydroelectric power for electrical generation by residential and commercial customers. Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, and Hawaii Electric Light Company support Net Energy Metering and recognize our roles to help Hawaii transition from fossil fuels to more renewable energy resources. Below is information for Hawaii Electric Light's customers and contractors that we hope will be helpful.
- What should I consider first?
- What is net energy metering?
- What is the difference between the NEM program and the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program?
- How are requirements established for NEM?
- What types of customer-generators are eligible?
- Where can I find a licensed contractor to install an NEM system?
- Does a solar water heating system qualify for net energy metering?
- Is there a limit to amount of solar or other distributed generation that can interconnect to Hawaii Electric Light’s grid?
- How can I find out the distributed generation penetration on my feeder?
- What is an Interconnection Requirements Study (IRS)?
- Will I need a new meter and, if so, do I need to pay for it?
- What happens to my electric bill if I generate more electricity than I use from the utility?
- What are the requirements for execution of the NEM agreement?
- What inverters and PV modules are required?
- How do I sign up for NEM?
- What is the DG Queue?
- How do I get placed in the DG Queue?
- Why are interconnection requirements necessary?
- How can I get more information about renewable energy systems that might qualify for NEM?
- When I get my NEM system installed, will it work during a power outage?
- What if my NEM system is already installed?
- How do I get the County of Hawaii electrical permit closed?
- What needs to be done if I purchase or rent a residence or business with a NEM system?
- How do I get more information about NEM and renewable energy for my home?
- How do I get information about tax credits for renewable energy systems?
- How do I get information about energy efficiency incentives for appliances, lighting, solar water heating, and other energy efficiency equipment?
Hawaii Electric Light Company: (808) 969-0358 Email: LVM@helcohi.com
Appendix I: Application for systems 10 kW and less
Appendix I (Sample): Sample Application for system 10 kW and less
Appendix II and Exhibit A: Application for systems greater than 10 kW and less than 100 kW
Appendix II (Sample): Sample Application for systems greater than 10 kW and less than 100 kW
Inverter Settings Addendum
Inverter Settings Addendum (3rd Party)
NEM Agreement Application Guidelines: Guidelines and recommendations for the island of Hawaii
Supplemental Review Request Authorization: Supplemental Review Request Authorization form to be submitted along with NEM application.
Rule 18: Net Energy Metering
Rule 14H: Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities
Understanding Your Net Energy Metering Bill Summary: Information on NEM and reading a NEM electric bill
How to Read Your Residential Net Energy Meter: Information on reading a NEM meter
How to Read Your NEM Meter: Video on how to read your NEM meter
Guide to Net Energy Metering brochure: Detailed explanation of the NEM program.
Guide to Going Solar: Questions to Ask When Selecting a PV Contractor: Sample list of questions to ask when requesting bids from PV Contractors
Guide to Going Solar: Initial Steps to Take When Considering PV: Helpful tips and considerations prior to installing PV
1. What should I consider first?
Energy conservation and efficiency actions are the best way to save energy, reduce your energy bills, and protect the environment. Assessing your electricity loads and needs and considering conservation and energy efficiency options is a recommended first step. Plus, you may reduce the size of the NEM system you need, potentially saving in up-front installation costs. Energy efficiency options may include switching to CFL’s or LED’s for lighting, installing a solar water heater, and replacing older inefficient appliances with Energy Star® models. Conservation measures may include turning down the thermostat on electric water heaters, fixing leaking faucets, and doing away with a second refrigerator or seldom used freezer. To find out more visit My Home Energy Check, www.hawaiienergy.com, and www.energystar.gov.
2. What is Net Energy Metering?
Net energy metering is a program for customers with eligible distributed generation (small, utility or customer sited generation) and executed NEM agreements to use the energy produced from their generation systems to offset all or part of their electricity purchases from Hawaii Electric Light in two ways:
- Energy produced from these renewable energy power generation systems is used directly to operate appliances and other electric equipment in a home or business,thereby offsetting electricity purchased from Hawaii Electric Light.
- When a customer generates more electricity than what is consumed, excess energy produced may be exported to Hawaii Electric Light for credit at full retail value, which can be used to offset electricity purchases over a 12-month period.
NEM customers are billed for the net energy purchased, which is determined by subtracting the excess energy exported to the utility grid from the total energy supplied by the utility. Here is the formula:
Energy Supplied by the Utility (kWh)
- Excess Energy Exported to the Utility (kWh)
= Net Energy Billed to the Customer (kWh)
In a given month, if more kilowatt-hours are exported to the grid than purchased from Hawaii Electric Light, they are carried forward as credits to offset subsequent bills within a 12-month period, and NEM customers will only be charged the "Minimum Charge" plus any adjustments specified in the applicable rate schedule in effect during the billing period. Under NEM, no check or cash payments will be made for excess electricity generated.
This is in contrast to other non-NEM customers with renewable energy generation systems. Customers with generating systems connected under a power purchase agreement are compensated for power exported to the utility grid at a lower wholesale rate. Customers with generating systems connected under a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) are compensated for power exported to the utility grid at a rate set by the State of Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to encourage the use of renewable energy resources. Customers with generating systems connected under a standard interconnection agreement (SIA) must consume all the electricity that they generate, and the export of surplus energy to the grid is not allowed nor compensated for. With NEM, you are in effect being given the higher retail credit for power which you generate.
3. What is the difference between the NEM Program and the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program?
Under the NEM program, the customer connects to the utility grid, allowing it to export surplus electricity onto the grid. The customer receives credit for that surplus electricity at the utility's retail rate which credit can be used to offset customer electricity purchases over a 12-month period. Under the FIT program, the eligible renewable generating facility is paid for the energy it delivers to the grid at a fixed rate approved by the Commission for the 20year term of the FIT Agreement. For energy delivered to a FIT customer from Hawaii Electric Light, the customer will be billed at the regular retail rate. Unlike FIT, NEM is not a power purchase program where the utility purchases power from the customer.
Under the NEM program, there are no fees to apply for the program. Under the FIT program, there is an application fee and additional fees depending on the size of the project. In addition to these differences between the two programs, there are a number of other differences that a customer should become familiar with before choosing to participate in a program, as the decision to proceed under either the NEM or FIT program is a decision that each customer must make based on their system size, surplus energy generated, energy consumed, as well as any circumstances which are unique to their system. For more information on the FIT program, please click here.
4. How are requirements established for NEM?
The 2005 Legislature, by Act 104, gave the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission authority to set requirements and limits; as well as safety, performance, and reliability standards for NEM by order, tariff, or rule.
5. What types of customer-generators are eligible?
Hawaii law specifies that NEM applies to solar, wind, biomass or hydroelectric generating facilities, or a hybrid system of two or more of these technologies, with a capacity up to 100 kW. (For more information about these technologies, visit the website of the State of Hawaii, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, Strategic Industries Division, Energy Branch).
6. Where can I find a licensed contractor to install a NEM system?
Information on contractors specializing in NEM generating systems is available from a number of sources. Below are just a few:
- Phone book yellow pages under "solar" and "electric contractors"
- Newspaper ads
- Friends, relatives, and neighbors who have installed NEM systems
- On the web by searching for "solar contractors Hawaii" or "big island solar contractors"
- Hawaii Solar Energy Association, www.hsea.org
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), www.nabcep.org
- State of Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing (PCL) search -This search is designed to help the public obtain basic information about businesses and individuals that hold professional and vocational licenses issued by the State of Hawaii, http://pvl.ehawaii.gov/pvlsearch/app
Please note that it is Hawaii Electric Light's general policy to not provide recommendations regarding contractors, equipment, or their suitability for any intended purpose. Customers are advised to use all due diligence in selecting contractors and investigating their proposals, just as they would with any major equipment or appliance purchase.
7. Does a solar water heating system qualify for net energy metering?
No. NEM applies only to systems that generate electricity. Solar water heating systems use heat from the sun directly to heat water for your use. Solar water heating systems do not produce electricity and therefore cannot feed electricity into the grid. For more information on rebates available for solar water heaters and other energy efficiency measures, contact Hawaii Energy at www.hawaiienergy.com or (877) 231-8222.
8. Is there a limit to the amount of solar or other distributed generation that can interconnect to Hawaii Electric Light's grid?
The amount of generation from all distributed generation sources, including NEM systems such as PV and wind, that can be interconnected to Hawaii Electric Light’s grid on each individual distribution feeder (the power line that brings electricity to your home or business) before significant impacts may occur to the reliability of electrical service provided to our customers is limited. To ensure continued reliable service for all customers on a distribution feeder and to Hawaii Electric Light’s system, all applications for interconnection go through a technical screening process. When the aggregate distributed generation generating capacity per distribution feeder of installed and planned systems exceeds 15% of the peak KVA load of the line section, the technical screening process will indicate that Supplemental Review of the application is required. The 15% threshold, approved by the PUC, serves as a trigger point for determining whether Supplemental Review may be needed and is not a cap on distributed generation. The need for Supplemental Review is identified by Hawaii Electric Light and takes into account feeder capacity and load, and other interconnection considerations. If the 15% penetration on the line section has not been reached, the system may qualify for simplified interconnection.
The Supplemental Review will result in one of the following: a) approval of interconnection; b) approval of interconnection with additional requirements; or c) the need for an Interconnection Requirements Study (IRS). Payment for an IRS and the installation of any additional equipment identified as a result of Supplemental Review or an IRS is the responsibility of the customer applying for the interconnection. Hawaii Electric Light continues to support NEM, however we must ensure the reliability and quality of electricity that we provide to all of our customers. Click here to learn more about DG.
9. How can I find out the distributed generation penetration on my feeder?
A review of the Locational Value Map (LVM) or a preliminary feeder screening check will provide an indication of the distributed generation penetration of a specific feeder and whether or not the feeder may have reached the threshold level of distributed generation where further study may be required prior to interconnection of additional distributed generation. Refer to Step 1 of Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii for more information on the LVM map and how to request a feeder screening check. Customers should not assume that the penetration level of a feeder shown on the LVM map or the results from a preliminary feeder check will be the same as when Hawaii Electric Light reviews a submitted NEM Agreement application to determine if further study is needed.
10. What is an Interconnection Requirement Study (IRS)?
All applications for interconnection to Hawaii Electric Light’s grid must go through a technical screening process. One possible outcome of the screening is that an Interconnection Requirement Study (IRS) may be needed. The technical screening is performed to determine if the interconnection of additional distributed generation on a feeder poses significant impacts to Hawaii Electric Light’s grid or quality of service provided to our customers. An IRS will determine if additional distributed generation can be connected and if additional interconnection equipment, protective devices, and/or control systems need to be installed. The costs of an IRS and any additional equipment, protective devices, and/or control systems that may be required are the responsibility of the customer.
If an IRS is required, the applicant will be notified and must decide if they will pay for the IRS or withdraw their application. If the applicant agrees to pay for the IRS, they will be required to execute a signed IRS Letter Agreement to initiate the IRS process and submit payment in full to Hawaii Electric Light. Factors that affect the cost of the IRS include system size, cost share availability, type of technology, the number of feeders involved, and the complexity of the feeder(s). From submittal of the IRS proposal and payment, an IRS may take approximately four to six months or more to complete. Upon completion of the IRS and the determination of any interconnection costs that may be the responsibility of the applicant, the applicant will have the option of agreeing to proceed with the interconnection work or withdraw the application.
Hawaii Electric Light continues to address the technical issues associated with the interconnection of increasing levels of distributed generation on a proactive basis. Customers and contractors should be aware, however, that if Supplemental Review or an IRS indicates that adverse impacts may occur, additional interconnection equipment may be required to be installed at the customer’s expense.
11. Will I need a new meter and, if so, do I need to pay for it?
New and existing NEM systems will require a new bi-directional digital meter capable of measuring the energy supplied by Hawaii Electric Light and the excess electricity from your renewable energy generation system exported to the grid. Hawaii Electric Light will provide the NEM meter at no cost to you.
A number of different types of NEM meters have been installed. The look of the meters are not all the same or the codes used to identify the various readings, but all of them will register the amount of electricity delivered by Hawaii Electric Light, the amount of electricity Hawaii Electric Light receives from the customer-generator, and the difference between the two, the “net”. To learn how to read a NEM meter, refer to “How to read your residential net energy meter…”. Please note that your NEM meter will not read the same as the output shown on your system’s inverter(s), as the energy generated by your system first powers your home's electrical devices and only the excess electricity produced will then be registered as received from the customer on the NEM meter.
All meters must be accessible by Hawaii Electric Light personnel for emergencies, meter reading, inspection, testing, and maintenance in accordance with the tariff and Hawaii Electric Light’s Service Installation Manual. For billing purposes the net meter needs to be manually read. If you plan to make modifications or additions which would render the metering facilities inaccessible, Hawaii Electric Light must be consulted before making such modifications or additions, and arrangements satisfactory to the utility must be made for continued access by Hawaii Electric Light’s workers.
12. What happens to my electric bill if I generate more electricity than I use from the utility?
Billing is on a monthly basis and you are responsible for a minimum charge even if you export more electricity than you take from the utility. The minimum charge covers some of the fixed costs of maintaining your electric account. Please review to “What every residential NEM customer should know…” and “How to read your residential NET energy billing and 12-month reconciliation spreadsheet…”.
An executed NEM Agreement allows the customer to carry over unused credits (excess net generation expressed as a monetary value) to future bills within a 12-month period, starting with the first full NEM billing month cycle. Unused credits left at the end of each 12-month reconciliation period may not be carried over to the next 12-month period. No check or cash payments will be made for unused credits.
13. What are the requirements for execution of the NEM agreement?
Note: NEM application processes for Hawaiian Electric and MECO may differ; please check nem.heco.com for Hawaiian Electric Company 's website for Oahu or www.mauielectric.com for Maui Electric's website for Maui, Molokai, and Lanai for details.
According to Hawaii state law (Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Section 269-101 -269-111), all residential and commercial utility customers who own and operate an eligible renewable energy generation system up to a generating capacity of 100 kW and intend to connect to the utility grid, must register their systems with their utility by executing a NEM agreement. The executed agreement allows the NEM customer to connect their renewable generator to the utility grid, allowing it to export surplus electricity into the grid, and to receive credits at full retail value which can be used to offset electricity purchases over a 12-month period.
All NEM systems must comply with Hawaii Electric Light’s interconnection requirements in effect at the time of signing the NEM agreement or at the time of system interconnection, whichever is later. Refer to Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii for a step-by-step process in getting a NEM Agreement executed.
14. What inverters and PV modules are required?
Only UL listed inverters and PV modules (if a PV system) may be used for NEM systems. In addition, an inverter must be able to be programmed to meet Hawaii Electric Light's interconnection requirements. The inverter trip point setting must be settable to 57.0 Hz (or 57.3 Hz for those inverters that cannot be set to 57.0 Hz) and the inverter clearing time to 300 seconds. Following system installation, verification that the settings for the specific inverter installed have been changed to these required settings must be provided to Hawaii Electric Light by the customer, contractor, or inverter manufacturer, and accepted by Hawaii Electric Light for the NEM Agreement to be executed by Hawaii Electric Light and the system interconnected and energized. Hawaii Electric Light recommends that confirmation be obtained from the inverter manufacturer that the inverter selected for installation can meet Hawaii Electric Light's interconnection requirements prior to system design and inverter purchase. After May 1, 2011, no exceptions to these requirements will be granted.
15. How do I sign up for NEM?
Due to the volume of NEM applications being received, Hawaii Electric Light recommends that customers considering participation in the NEM program submit an application per the step-by-step process described in Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii as soon as possible. As the level of NEM activity increases, there may be delays in Hawaii Electric Light's processing of NEM applications. We greatly appreciate our customers' understanding and patience.
16. What is the Distributed Generation (DG) queue?
Please be aware that the NEM application processes, including the queuing process, are subject to change without notice.
NEM is available to customers on a first come, first served basis. Basically, the DG Queue reserves your place in line for circuit (feeder) capacity and an executed agreement with Hawaii Electric Light. To be placed in the DG Queue, Hawaii Electric Light’s Engineering Department must receive and accept application documents, determine if there is room on the applicable feeder for the size of system planned, and if Supplemental Review and an Interconnection Requirements Study (IRS) is required. If the feeder capacity for distributed generation is less than 15% at the time an NEM Agreement application is reviewed by Hawaii Electric Light, Supplemental Review nor an IRS will generally be required. For submittal of a NEM application, please follow the step-by-step process described in Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii.
Deadlines have been established for the installation of systems in the DG Queue. Applications will be removed from the DG Queue and the applicant will lose their place in line if the NEM system is not installed and the required post-installation documents are not received by Hawaii Electric Light within 12 months* for systems 20 kW and less or 18 months* for systems greater than 20 kW. A one-time extension of up to a maximum of 180 days may be requested in writing by the applicant prior to the deadline. The length of the extension will be at Hawaii Electric Light’s sole discretion and will be based on progress made towards completion of the project. To reapply once an application is removed from the queue, a new application must be submitted, a new feeder screening check performed, and an IRS performed if required. (*24 months for government agencies.) Click here to learn more about DG.
17. How do I get placed in the DG queue?
You must submit a NEM agreement application along with the required drawing(s) to Hawaii Electric Light. The application and drawing(s) must be accepted by Hawaii Electric Light and a determination made by Hawaii Electric Light if there is available capacity on your distribution circuit and if Supplemental Review is needed and possibly an Interconnection Requirements Study (IRS). If no Supplemental Review and/or IRS is needed, your application will be placed in the DG Queue. Refer to Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii.
18. Why are interconnection requirements necessary?
Interconnection requirements are necessary for safety reasons and to mitigate potentially adverse impacts of customer-sited distributed generation interconnected to Hawaii Electric Light’s grid. If your renewable energy generation system mistakenly back-feeds power into an electric line that utility crews think is de-energized, the crews can be seriously injured or even killed. Interconnection requirements help to ensure that the renewable energy installation meets all safety requirements. In addition, the requirements help to ensure that the NEM system will not adversely impact Hawaii Electric Light’s electric distribution system so that you and other customers continue to receive reliable service and good power quality, avoiding potentially disruptive swings in voltage levels that could damage your equipment and that of the utilities.
Whether you are installing a new renewable energy generation system or considering NEM for an existing renewable energy generation system, compliance with all interconnection requirements, including safety and other codes, is required.
19. How can I get more information about renewable energy systems that might qualify for NEM?
Here is a list of eligible inverters.
Here is a list of eligible PV modules.
Here is a list of approved equipment that meets TOV specifications.
Please call the utility for more information.
20. When I get my NEM system installed, will it work during a power outage?
Not necessarily. For safety purposes, system inverters are constantly sensing the Hawaii Electric Light grid. If a grid disturbance occurs the inverters are designed to immediately cease power production until the grid returns to normal. However, grid-tied distributed generation systems can be equipped with battery backup that can provide power during a grid power outage. Consult with your contractor prior to system installation if you want back-up power from your system.
21. What if my NEM system is already installed?
For NEM agreement applications received for systems already installed, Hawaii Electric Light will conduct a feeder screening check prior to approving the interconnection. If an IRS is required, the study will need to be paid for, conducted, and the results analyzed prior to interconnection authorization.
Please note that all generating systems interconnected with Hawaii Electric Light’s grid must be in compliance with all applicable codes, ordinances, and interconnection requirements and have the appropriate interconnection agreement executed with Hawaii Electric Light. Customer generating systems found not to be in compliance with Hawaii Electric Light’s interconnection requirements are subject to being immediately locked out and electric service terminated until all interconnection requirements are met.
22. How do I get the County of Hawaii permits closed?
Call the contractor who installed your renewable energy generation system and have the contractor set an appointment with the county’s inspectors. Closure of all applicable permits signifies that your system has been inspected and found to be designed and installed in conformance with applicable codes for safe operation.
Final inspection and approval by the County of Hawaii is required and is a vital part of executing a NEM agreement. In accordance with NEM tariff rule (Rule 18), the utility will not execute a NEM agreement without verification of approvals and closure of applicable permits. After the permit has been closed following the county’s inspection, have your contractor submit verification of the closed permit to Hawaii Electric Light. For information on how to obtain an electrical permit or to determine permit status, call the County of Hawaii Building Department: 961-8331 (Hilo) or 327-3520 (Kona).
23. What needs to be done if I purchase or rent a residence or business with a NEM system?
If you purchase or rent a home and the electric account will be in your name, you must sign a new NEM agreement at the time electric service is applied for. Refer to Net Energy Metering (NEM) Agreement Application Guidelines & Recommendations – Island of Hawaii.
24. How do I get more information about NEM and renewable energy for my home?
If you have questions about renewable energy installations or need more information about NEM or the required forms that must be submitted to Hawaii Electric Light, please call us at 969-0358. Additional information can be found at: www.energysavers.gov, www.eere.energy.gov, www.nrel.gov/learning
25. How do I get information about incentives and tax credits for PV and other renewable energy systems?
Consult the following sources for information about available state and federal incentives and tax credits for PV and other renewable energy systems:
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRESOLAR™) www.dsireusa.org.
- Hawaii Department of Taxation
Taxpayer Services Branch
P.O. Box 259
Honolulu, HI 96809
Phone: (808) 587-4242
Web Site: http://www.state.hi.us/tax
In addition, contact your NEM contractor to discuss contractor incentives or financing opportunities that may be available.
26. How do I get information about energy efficiency incentives for appliances, lighting, solar water heating, and other energy efficiency equipment?
Contact Hawaii Energy at www.hawaiienergy.com or (877) 231-8222.