HECO paying cash to customers who add battery storage to their solar

Oahu Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric is accepting applications for Battery Bonus, a new program that will pay a cash incentive for residential and commercial customers on Oahu to add energy storage (a battery) to an existing or new rooftop solar system. This one-time incentive will help move Hawaii toward its goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 and add more renewable resources to the grid in the short-term when the AES coal-fired plant is retired in September 2022.

“The Public Utilities Commission sees the value that solar and batteries can bring to our grid, and have unveiled a new program to accelerate adoption here in Hawaii,” said Robert Harris, Sunrun’s Director of Public Policy for Hawaii. “The Hawaii Commission is encouraging customers to install batteries so as to keep their own lights on, as well as prevent system-wide blackouts. This is just one more instance proving that clean, distributed energy resources can and should replace fossil fuel power across the United States.”

The program is capped by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at a total 50 megawatts (MW) supplied from storage among all participants. Incentive payments are:

  • $850 per kilowatt (kW) for those accepted for the first 15MW. (For example, 5kW would yield a $4,250 payment.) Hawaiian Electric will confirm by checking battery data that the system is meeting its committed performance in the program for the customer to receive the full amount of incentive.
  • $750 per kW for those accepted for the next 15MW.
  • $500 per kW for those accepted for the last 20MW.

Applications will be accepted through June 23, 2023, or until the cap is reached.

Program details

Homeowners and businesses with an existing solar system enrolled in a customer energy program (such as Net Energy Metering, Customer Grid Supply or others) will continue to receive full benefits from these programs. Up to 5 kW of new panels may be added under existing programs. There is no limit on the size of an individual customer’s battery.

The total program term is 10 years. Customers who participate must use and/or export electricity stored in the battery at the contracted amount on a firm two-hour schedule specified by Hawaiian Electric between 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily (including weekends and holidays) through December 31, 2023. (Example of two-hour period: 6:05 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.) After that date, customers will have the option to transition to the program’s next phase to be defined by the PUC for the rest of the 10-year term.

Customers must work with a solar contractor to add storage to an existing system or install a new solar-plus-storage system. Contractors will be able to help fill out forms and submit them to Hawaiian Electric. Contractors may also take advantage of Quick Connect, an existing “pre-approval” program that allows customers who meet certain requirements to install and energize their systems first and send Hawaiian Electric information on their system later.

Securing a building permit from the City & County Department of Planning and Permitting or proof of permit application is required as part of the submission and will determine the final incentive amount.

The solar-plus-storage system owner will receive the incentive. That can be the residential or commercial customer owning the system or a company leasing the system to the homeowner or business. Customers may end participation before the 10-year commitment by notifying Hawaiian Electric and repaying a prorated portion of the incentive.

The incentive payment is considered income. Hawaiian Electric will provide participants with tax forms and report information to the IRS and Hawaii Department of Taxation.

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