Maui Electric Among Top 10 Utilities in Nation for Solar

April 13, 2016, 3:48 PM HST · Updated April 14, 6:00 AM
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For an eighth year, Maui Electric Company has been named as one of the nation’s top utilities for connecting the most solar watts per customer to the grid.

Maui Electric was listed ninth in the annual Top 10 list compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, formerly the Solar Electric Power Association. Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative was listed at number seven on the 2016 list.

Maui Electric recorded 386 solar watts per customer with 2,149 systems as of Dec. 31, 2015.

“Most others on the top ten list are appearing for the first or second time, indicating an upsurge in solar adoption across the mainland that utilities in Hawai‘i have experienced for 10 years,” Maui Electric representatives said.

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Awards were announced on Tuesday at the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s Utility Solar Conference in Denver. The ninth annual survey includes figures from more than 300 utilities across the country on solar connected to the grid.

According to Maui Electric, In 2015, 35.3% of the electricity used by Maui Electric customers came from renewable resources, including customer-sited private solar power, wind and hydroelectricity, making a significant contribution to the 23.2% renewable energy used by customers of all three Hawaiian Electric customers.

“We know our customers are very interested in increasing renewable energy in Maui County and reducing our use of imported oil,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric Company in a press release. “We continue to work to maximize use of Maui’s renewable resources and our updated Power Supply Improvement Plan maps the way to a 100% renewable, clean energy future by 2045.”

Company representatives say Maui Electric watts per customer “should increase significantly” when the utility begins buying electricity from two planned large solar projects: a 2.87 megawatt photovoltaic project near the Maui Research & Technology Park in Kīhei to be developed by Maui-based developer South Maui Renewable Resources, and Kuia Solar’s planned 2.87 MW PV project in Lahaina near Lahainaluna School. These projects are expected to offer solar power to Maui Electric’s grid at the low price of 11.06 cents per kilowatt hour.

“We saw record installations of solar in 2015 across the United States. Our Top 10 survey results detail the scale of this growth, and the active role an increasing number of utilities are playing in it,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA’s President and CEO. “Consumers want solar, and their interest is driving change and innovation at utilities nationwide. This growth is occurring not only in well-known solar markets such as California and Hawai‘i, but in unexpected pockets of solar activity, including Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia.”

The full Top 10 listings are available online at www.sepatop10.org.

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